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THE 



FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHCRCH 



IN 



NORTH AMERICA. 



CONSTITUTED AT SAVANNAH, GEOEGIA, 
JANUARY 20, A.D. 1788. 



WITH BIOOBAFHICAI SOICHES OP THE PASTORS. 



7 • 



WRITTEN FOR THB CHURCH 

BY 

EEV. JAMES M. SIMMS. 



PEINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, 

PHILADELPHIA. 
1888. 



Copyright, 1888, by James M. Simms. 



. 1 ' 






HLa;I;WlH3rit.-f7r-lkggii3;I-i 



I 



9 a;<( tu pm0ts 



or ouB 

BEYSBED FOBEFATHEBS AND MOTHEBS IN THE GOSPEL OF 

JESUS GHBIST, 

REV. ANDREW BRYAN, DEACON SAMPSON BRYAN, HANNAH 
BRYAN, KATE HOGG, HAGAR SIMPSON, 

AND THEIB SUCCESSOBS, 

AND TO THE PA8T0B, DEACONS, AND LOYINO HEMBEBS AND EBIENDS WHOSE 

ZEAL HAS EBECTED THIS MONUMENTAL EDITICB TO 

THE OLOBT OF f HE TBITJNE OOD, 

THIS VOILiTJMLB: 

IS 

MOST AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED. 






PEEFAOE. 



<*I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What 
thou seest, write in a hook." — Kkt. i. 11. 

t< My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow 
me: 

*< And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never 
perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 

<< My Father, which gave ifiem me, is greater than all ; and 
no man is ahle to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 

"I and my Father are one." — John x. 27-80. 

It pleased God^ a century ago, to plant a Baptist 
Church of the negro race in Georgia, and having nur- 
tured its growth and spread its branches until now, 
there are of this distinctive people in the State over 
thirty associations, fourteen hundred churches, and one 
hundred and sixty thousand members. We shall pro- 
ceed by divine grace to give a history as we shall be 
able to gather the facts of this first church. 

We shall not hesitate in using contemporaneous no- 
tices from our more favored brethren, well knowing 
our dependence in that direction; remembering our 

bondage and the almost impossibility of keeping 

1* 6 



' PREFACE. 



records of the church under the circumstances sur- 
rounding us in a state of slavery, and the watchful- 
ness of those who oppressed ; therefore, we shall also 
have to depend largely upon the traditions of the 
elders and fathers of the churches, and the early his- 
tory of both white and colored Baptists of the State. 

The Rev. David Benedict has given us in his " His- 
tory of the Baptists" some account in detail, as received 
from Rippon^a Register for 1791 and Holcombe^s Re- 
pository for 1792, relative to this church, and two others 
of later date coming out of the same. Also, we find 
several important references in the " History of Georgia 
Baptists and Compendium,"* compiled for the " Chris- 
tian Index," etc., from which we have taken the lib- 
erty to copy with grateful acknowledgments ; also from 
later private papers of the compiler of that history, 
Riev. S, Boyken, D.D. We are also greatly indebted 
to Rev. Lewis C. Tebeau for statistics from the minutes 
of the Sunbury Baptist Association, from 1818 to 
1864 ; to the kindness of T. H. Harden, Esq., of this 
city, all of which is thankfully acknowledged. , 

Dr. Benedict says he copied from Rippon^s Register 
and Hohombe^s Repository. They Were contempora- 
neous with Mr. Bryan and a part of his church's his- 
tory ; as the " History of the Baptists in Georgia" uses 

 " History of the Baptists in Gteorgia,'' 1881, pp. 47, 48. 



PREFACE. ' 7 

almost verbatim the same account, they must have 
copied from the later I. E. Benedict's "History of 
the Baptists/' Our remembrances and traditions of 
the elders and fathers have come even down to our day 
very clearly, as Brethren Samuel Cope, Adam Dolly, 
Andrew Neyle, Robert McNish, Kate Hague, Sarah 
Wallace, Mary Bryan, and others. Sisters Grace 
Hague and Sarah Wallace were old enough to well 
remember the circumstances of the organization, and 
soon after were among the early converts, and lived to 
very old ages; the first to 1884 and the two latter to 
1885, and with whom we conversed upon these sub- 
jects and noted their statements ; and, comparing them 
with the written history, find no essential difference. 

Folios of tlie minutes of the Sunbury Baptist Abso- 
ciation, which was organized in 1818, are in possession 
of Rev. L. A. Tebeau, to whom we are indebted for 
much information, and the references to the other 
periods of contemporaneous associations, and^ the 
Georgia Baptist State Convention meetings, referred to 
in the "History of Georgia Baptists," by the Christian 
Index of this State ) also " Greorgia Baptists, Historical 
and Biographical," by Rev. Jesse H. Campbell, of 
Twiggs County, Georgia, 1847, a frequent visitor at 
our association meetings, who was connected with the 
old Sunbury Association, gives us some corroborative 
information ; and we have gathered some dates also cor- 



g PREFACE. 

roborative from " The Salsbergers and their Descend- 
ants," by Rev. P. A. Stroball, 1855. Much of the 
history of Rev. Andrew Marshall is taken from what 
he furnished in life to Rev. J. P. Tustin, D.D., and a 
description of him given by Rev. John M. Krebs, 
D.D., both of which are published in " Annals of the 
American Pulpit," by Rev. William Sprague, D.D., 
1859, the correctness of which we can attest. With 
diffidence in our ability we submit our recollections 
of these times, hoping they may furnish a basis for 
some more able historian of the future. 



COMTEK TS. 



CHAPTER L 

PAOI 

Baptism of Andrew Bryan and Three Females, by Bev. 
George Liele — Mr. Bryan's early Exhortations at Bramp- 
ton — His Meeting-House at Yamacraw, upon Edward 
Davis's Land — Early History of Baptists in this Section — 
The Orphan House of Mr. Whitefield — Nicholas Bedge- 
good — An Attempt to organize a Baptist Church — Con- 
version of Sampson Bryan — Rev. Thomas Burton—His 
Baptism-«>Hr. Bryan's Converts — Plantation Societies 
formed — Abram Marshall — His Baptizing other Converts 
— Organizes the Church — Ordains Andrew Bryan — Per- 
secutions of the Church — Whipping Mr. Bryan, his 
Brother, and other Members— Jonathan Bryan intercedes 
for them — Chief-Justice Osbourne gives them Permission 
to worship — Church removed to Brampton — Mr. Bryan's 
Ordination questioned — Decision by the Georgia Associa- 
tion — Preaching on Lot of Thomas Gibbons — Church 
removed back to the City — Purchase of Lot — Building a 
Church Edifice thereon — Removing into the Same . . 18-85 

CHAPTER IL 

Conversion of Thomas Polhill and Wife — Attempt to organ- 
ize a White Baptist Body — Conversion of Native Africans 
— The Church as a Member of the Georgia Association — 
Soundness against Unity with Psedobaptists — Incidents 
of her Baptisms — Marriage Relations of the Members . 86-45 

CHAPTER IIL 

Petition to Mayor and Aldermen not granted — Major D. 
B. Mitchell of the Militia — Permitted by him to Meet — 
Trustees selected — Property deeded to them in Trust — 
Sampson Bryan — First Deacon's Death — Organization of 
the Newington Church — Rev. Henry Holcom be — His Call 

9 



10 CONTENTS. 



to Ssyannah — ^Hifl Work — Organization of the Savannah 
Biver Association — Constitution of Two more Colored 
Churches — Henry Cunningham and Henry Francis — 
Their Ordination as Pastor^ 46-62 

CHAPTEB IV. 

Sunday Services — Condition of Night Services — Beating of 
the Guard-House Drum — ^Times of Communion — Mixed 
Membership — Andrew Marshall's Conversion and Bap- 
tism — Mr. Bryan's Feebleness — His Character, given by 
Dr. Holcombe — ^Andrew Marshall called as bis Assistant 
— Evans Grate as a Preacher — Mr. Bryan's Peculiar Ser- 
vices as a Pastor — ^His Death — His Honorable Burial — 
Bev. Dr. Kollock — Bev. Johnson, of the Savannah Bap- 
tist Church — Death reported to the Association — Besolu- 
tion of that Body 63-76 

CHAPTER V. 

Bev. Evans Grate supplying the Church — Call of Bev. Mr. 
Marshall as Pastor — Organization of Sunbury Associa- 
tion — Adam Johnson and Josiah Lloyd First Delegates — 
Mr. Marshall's Doctrines — His Troubles — His Friends — 
Sentenced to be whipped — Names of Influential Members 
of that Day — Adam Anderson and Joseph Clay as Clerks 
—Grace Hague 76-89 

CHAPTER VL 

Evans Grate and Adam Sheftall as Delegates in 1822— The 
Church designated as African — First Colored Sunday- 
School — Dr. Alexander Campbell — His Preaching in this 
Church — The Division it caused — Mr. Marshall with- 
drawing with the Majority — Adam Johnson Leader of 
the Minority — ^The Troubles before the Association — Their 
Action — Mr. Marshall silenced — Buying the Old Church 
on Franklin Square^Church called Bev. T. Anderson as 
Pastor — Beadmitted into the Association — Her new Des- 
ignation 90-107 



CONTENTS. 11 

CHAPTER VII. 

PA«B 

The Claim for Originalitj— The First Negro Baptist Church 
in America — Wanderings and Settlement — Orthodox 
Faith of the Church under Mr. Bryan — Number and 
Designation not by the Church — Submission to procure 
License to preach — Intent of our White Ministers shown 
by Eesolutions of the Association — The Church powerless 
to insist upon her Rights — The Church's Demands upon 
Mr. Marshall — His Confession — They, having no Juris- 
diction over him, accepted the Confession as a Satisfaction 
— Mr. Marshall's Claim to the Property— Trustees decide 
against him — Rev. Anderson's Resignation — Rev. Stephen 
McQueen called — His Service for Five Years — Rev. J. B. 
Devoux's Succession, Service, Resignation — Call of Rev. 
I. Roberts, Fifth Pastor from the Second Church — Ser- 
vice, Resignation — Rev. Brister Lawton succeeds — Call of 
Four new Deacons 109-126 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Adam Johnson as a Deacon — Andrew Neyle — Call and Or- 
dination of C Frazer — Numeration and Taxation of 
Churches — Frazer desiring to resign — Ordination of U. L. 
Houston — Southern Baptist Convention of 1861 — ^Resig- 
nation of Mr. Frazer — Rev. Houston called to the Pas- 
torate—The Church in the War— New-Year of 1868— Last 
Meeting with the Sunbury Association — Freedom — Pastor 
and Officers introduced to Gteneral Sherman — Secretary 
Stanton — President Lincoln — Sheltering Refugees — As- 
sassination of Mr. Lincoln — The Shock — Recovery and 
Hope 127-140 

CHAPTER IX. 

Zion Baptist Association — Position of the Church therein 
First — Choosing a Title — Ordination of Rev. A. Neyle to 
the Ministry — The Pastor elected to the State Legislature 
— ^Church procuring a Charter — Deacon A. Harris — Con- 
spiracy in the Church — Usurping the Pastorate — The 



12 yONTENTS, 

PAOB 

Question before the Association — Their Decision — ^An ex 
parte Council in Savannah — Their Decision — The Church's 
Action thereon 141-163 

CHAPTER X. 

Appointing Brother Green to Protest against Harris — 
Troubles in the Courts — Counsel Employed — Green's Case 
before the Mayor — Harris enjoined by the Court — Branch 
of the Church at Woodstock organized — Last Communion 
Service — Resolutions against Harris — Houston's Becall 
as Pastor — Simms received into Membership — Meeting of 
Male Members — Harris's Injunction removed — Attempts 
to Preach — Policemen called in — Fasting and Prayer — 
Houston and Simms in Prison 164-184 

CHAPTER XI. 

Regular Church Services resumed — Resolutions Relative to 
the Late Troubles — Parties expelled — Troubles resumed 
in the Association — Houston elected Moderator — Com- 
mittee reports Relative to this Church — Several Elder 
Brethren withdraw — Causes of their Action — Old Church 
Building taken Down — Coipmittees to erect a New Build- 
ing — Building commenced — Corner-Stone laid by the 
Masonic Fraternity -. . . . 186-204 

CHAPTER XIL 

Work of Building — Modes of Raising Funds — List of 
Subscribers and Workers — Financial Embarrassments — 
Trustees effect Loans — Benevolent Societies' Assistance — 
Zeal of Pastor and Officers — Financial Investigation and - 
Report — Building completed — Request for Convention — 
Dedication — Centennial Anniversary Services — Branches 
from this Oldest Church—Present Officers ..... 206-224 

Covenant, Constitution, and By-Laws .... 226-283 
Biographical Skbtchbs of the Pastors .... 234-264 



THE 



FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



IN 



NORTH AMERICA. 



CHAPTER J. 

'* And the eunuch said, See, Aer« is water; what doth hinder 
me to be baptized ? 

" And Philip said. If thou believest with all thine heart, thou 
mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ 
is the Son of God. 

''And he commanded the chariot to stand still : and they went 
down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch ; and he 
baptized him. 

" And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit 
of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no 
more." — Acts viii. 36-39. 

It is truly said by Dr. Benedict that a mysterious 

Providence has permitted a large portion of the sons 

of Africa to be transported from their native country 

to America, and here to have been reduced to a state 

2 13 



14 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

of absolute and (so far as human intent could control) 
perpetual slavery ; but He who can bring good out of 
evil has overruled this calamity for their spiritual 
advantage. 

In the good providence of God a colored man named 
George Liele,* born in Virginia about the year 1750, 
removed to Georgia with his master, Mr. Henry 
Sharpe, some time before the Revolutionary war. 
They settled in Burke County, and his owner being a 
Baptist and deacon of a church of which Rev. Mat- 
thew Moore was pastor, Brother George became con- 

' verted under his preaching about 1774, and was 
brought to rejoice in the Lord Jesus through faith ; 
and not long after was baptized by Mr. Moore and 
received into his church. Soon discovering that he was 

J endowed with ministerial gifts, the church approbated 
the exercising of them, and he began to preach upon 
the neighboring plantations along the Savannah River 
with much success, and sometimes he preached in the 
evenings of Lord's Day to the church (white) to which 

Lhe belonged. For about three years he occasionally 
came down the river as far as Brampton, a plantation 
belonging to Jonathan Bryan, Esq., and preached to 
his slaves ; he, being a liberal master, encouraged these 
visits. He frequently extended these visits to the city 

* Benedict's History, 1813, vol. ii. pp. 194, 195, 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 15 

of Savannah^ and preached at Yamacraw, in the west- ^ 
ern subarbs. 

What converts he made, if any, during this time 
we have no information of, but his master and brother 
in Christ thought so well of him that he gave him his- 
freedom. The war coming on of course stopped his 
preaching, and he remained in the family until the 
death of Mr. Sharpe, who was killed in the war. 
Brother George then went free, though some of the 
heirs, not being satisfied, threw him into prison ; but 
on showing his free papers he was released. Colonel 
Kirkland, of the British army, who befriended him in 
this trouble, then advised him to leave the country 
with him when they evacuated ; and, being aft inden- 
tured servant to him for money which he owed, he 
departed the country for the island of Jamaica, in the 
West Indies, some time in July, 1783. 

The vessel in which Brother George embarked for 
Kingston, on that island, was detained at the mouth 
of the Savannah River, near Tybee Island, for some 
weeks, the wind and weather not permitting her to sail. 
While detained there he came up to the city, by the 
providence of God, and baptized Andrew Bryan and * 
his wife Hannah, Kate Hogg, and Hagar Simpson, — 
all colored persons and slaves, — thus closing his labors 
in this part of the Lord^s vineyard. He soon after 
left, and was seen no more in these parts. 



16 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

About nine months after his baptism Brother An- 
drew Bryan began to exhort his brethren, friends, and 
a few white persons who would assemble to hear him. 
Previous to his public exhortations, prayer-meetings 
.were held on the master's plantation at Brampton, 
three miles west of the city; and under the influence 
of these meetings the man's faith grew and prepared 
the minister. The power and spirit of these exhorta- 
tions were of such a character that his master and some 
few others saw it was a matter to be encouraged, as 
the seeming influence upon the servants for good was 
apparent. Therefore Mr. Edward Davis permitted 
, him and his hearers to erect a rough wooden building 
on his land in Yamacraw, and for about three years 
they enjoyed the inestimable blessing of worshipping 
God freely, — the one single liberty for his good then 
allowed to a negro. 

We must now go back and review the earlier re- 
ligious condition of this part of the State briefly. 
The Wesleys had come and preached, under the au- 
spices of the Episcopalian Church of England, in 
1735, and after they returned to England Mr. George 
Whitefield came to Savannah, arriving on the 7th of 
May, 1738. He preached but four months, then re- 
turned to England to solicit aid in establishing an 
Orphan House, which, on his return, he commenced to 
erect on the 25th of March, 1740, calling the same 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 17 

Bethesda {^' house of mercy^^). There had also been 
some attempts to ftnind a Lutheran church — aud some 
missionary work had been done between Savannah and 
Ebenezer,* in Effingham County, on the Savannah 
River — by Rev. John Martin Bolzius and Rev. Israel 
Christian Gronau as early as 1775. The Enhaw Bap- 
tist Church existed over in Beaufort district, South 
Carolina, some thirty miles off, but seemingly there 
was but little influence felt from that source. In the 
year 1757 one of Mr. Whitefield's assistants at the 
Orphan House, named Nicholas Bedgegood, embraced 
the faith of the Baptists, and was baptized by a Mr. 
Oliver Hart, of Charleston, soon after ; and in 1763, 
six years later, he in turn baptized Mr. Benjamin 
Stirk and wife, Thomas Dixon, and one Dupree, — all 
white persons. These, with a few other Baptists (emi- 
grants from the old country, no doubt), had the Lord's 
Supper administered to them at the Orphan House, 
nine miles south of the city, by Mr. Bedgegood ; but 
this little society, it seems, soon scattered and no per- 
manent organization of the Baptists came of them, 
much to the relief of Mr. Whitefield, it is said, who 
was much opposed to this Baptist interest growing up 
in the midst of his work. 



***The Saulbergers and their Descendants," by Kev. P. A. 
Strobel, p. 94. 



18 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

We note these efforts and their failure right here, as 
by them we may see God's sovereign will in giving 
the negro preference, and shall by and by revert to 
them again. 

These humble slave worshippers statedly met at their 
meeting-house, as it was called; and the good seed 
sown by the good Lord, through the instrumentality 
of Brother George Liele, began to spring up and bear 
fruit. Mr. Bryan, like "Andrew who first findeth 
his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus,'' was in- 
strumental in converting his brother, Sampson Bryan, 
about the beginning of his ministry, and they, being 
visited by an aged minister named Thomas Burton, 
soon after Sampson and seventeen others of Mr. 

X Bryan's converts were baptized, upon a credible pro- 
fession of their faith in Christ. This number, how- 
ever, is not an indication of the extent of his success, 
for many who may have been converted could not 

' receive this ordinance, being so bound by the power 
of slavery that they required the consent of their 
masters in writing to enable them to obey God and 
satisfy this earnest religious desire of the soul. This 
small beginning seemed to have commenced in the 
year 1785, about the time that a religious revival 
was going on higher up in the State, and about the 
time the first association was organized ; and the little 
nucleus for the church had to learn to labor in pa- 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 19 

tience and to wait. Their progress was slow; there 
could be no regularity in their meetings ; thej had to 
bide their time and opportunity to serve the Lord, 
Here was the period when the system ever since 
known as the Sodgty on each plantation was inau- 
gurated, — that is, one brother was appointed as a | 
watchman to open and lead the prayer-meeting at 
such place as the few believers and seekers after Jesus 
came together. Sometimes it was in the watchman's 
house, and often had to be in the s^amp, when pro- 
hibition was made by the owner or overseer of the 
plantation ; for be it remembered that the majority of 
those preached to by Mr. Bryan were from and of thef 
rice and indigo plantations along the Savannah River; . 
and only when tickets of permission were given to 
them to visit the city could they attend these preach-' 
ings. On these occasions might be seen numbers of 
cypress log dugouts, called by the Indian name canoe, 
paddling down and up the river on the Sabbath morn- 
ings and evenings. Those of the city and suburban 
farms had, of course, better opportunities of attending 
oftener ; yet all were under the necessity of procuring 
passes from their owners or employers, the river and 
roads being patrolled by the county militia-men, and 
a severe castigation would be the penalty if found 
without such pass. Thus the progress of religion 
may only seem slow when, in 1788, about three years 



20 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

after the visit of Rev. Thomas Burton, they were again 
-visited by Rev. Abraham Marshall, of Kioke, accom- 
panied by a young preacher of color, named Jesse 
V-Golphin. Mr. Marshall baptized forty-five more of 
^ the congregation in one day, and on the 20th of Jan- 
uary, 1788, organized them into a church, and or- 
dained Mr. Bryan to the ministry as their pastor, with 
full authority to preach the gospel and administer the 
ordinances of Christ. 

Thus was the church struggling in embryo for about 
five years, and, being now fully and " fitly framed to- 
gether for an habitation of God through the spirit," * 
their faith was now to be put to a severe test ; that " the 
trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that 
perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found 
unto praise and honour and glory at the ai)pearing of 
Jesus Christ."t Joyous in this only privilege allowed, 
with much pride they gathered on the Lord's Day 
in their rough house of worship, in the suburbs of 
the city, singing the songs of Zion, making melody 
in their hearts. There had ever been opposition to 
any other religious worship save the Episcopal and 
Lutheran, the only existing churches founded with 
the colony, and the Presbyterians, planted by the 
Rev. George Whitefield, all Pedobaptists, so that as 

* Eph. ii. 21, 22. f 1 I*eter i. 7. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 21 

this church grew and began to flourish, oft appearing 
at the Savannah River administering the ordinance of 
baptism, they met with various annoyances at first, 
which was patiently borne almost in silence ; but the 
opposition grew stronger and their trials greater. Fre- 
quent, then, became the whipping of individual mem- 
bers by the patrol on the plea of not having proper 
tickets-of-leave, which finally culminated in the ar- 
rest and punishment of a large part of the members, 
all of whom were severely whipped ; but Rev. Andrew 
Bryan, their pastor, and his brother, Sampson l$rysin,\ 
one of the first deacons, were inhumanly cut, and their- 
backs were so lacerated that their blood ran down to 
the earth, as they, with uplifted hands, cried unto the 
Lord ; and this first negro Baptist pastor, while under 
this torture, declared to his persecutors " that he re- 
joiced not only to be whipped, but would freely suffer 
death for the cause of Jesus Christ.^' 

The brothers, Andrew and Sampson, with their 
backs bleeding, accused of evil designs against the 
whites or of plotting insurrection, as charged by their 
accusers, were with some fifty others locked up in 
prison and their meeting-house taken away from them. 
This was about the year 1789 or 1790. Mr. Jonathan 
Bryan, the master of Andrew and Sampson, interceded 
for these persecuted Christians, fully believing that 

they were martyrs to prejudice and wickedness. 

2* 



22 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

They were examined by the Justices of the Inferior 
Court of Chatham County, — Henry Osbourne, James 
Habersham, and David Montague, — who found them 
innocent and released them. It is but just to say that 
many of the owners of these humble Christian slaves 
were indignant at the barbarous manner their servants 
were treated, and so freely expressed themselves ; and 
Mr. Jonathan Bryan allowed them to resume their 
worship upon his plantation, and gave them the use 
of his barn. Yet even here, upon private property, 
they were followed and watched during their nightly 
prayer-meetings, when they did not see these eaves- 
droppers, and though protected and defended by sev- 
eral generous whites, who felt that they were earnest 
in their purpose of the worship of God, their enemies, 
nevertheless, kept up a continuous system of espionage 
around the church or barn, until at a time when one 
of their number was eavesdropping at Rev. Mr. 
Bryan's private house, he heard this pious servant of 
God praying earnestly for the very men who had so 
mercilessly whipped him.* Struck with surprise, 
conviction, and fear, no doubt through the spirit of 
God, he reported the same, which enlisted great sym- 
pathy about the county, and thereafter permission 

* I have heard this circumstance related often by Rev. A. 
Marshall, in his reference to the past in his sermons. — [Ed.] 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 23 

was granted them by the Chief-Justice, Henry Os- 
bourne, to continue their worship any time between 
sunrise and sunset. 

They held meetings at Brampton about two years, 
and in this interval of peace and quietude they made 
some influential white friends. Aid in money by his 
people and friends, to rebuild, was given Mr. Bryan, 
,and he succeeded in purchasing the lot upon which the 
'church now stands, and in the latter part of 1794 
began the erection of a church building. Meetings 
were being held also occasionally in the city suburbs ; 
however, this year, in a temporary shelter, built upon 
a lot given for the purpose to Mr. Bryan by Thomas 
Gibbons, Esq. This lot is situated on what is now 
known as Mill Street, running to Indian Street 
Lane.* 

"ABSTRACT SHOWING, SO FAR AS THE SAME 
APPEARS OF RECORD, THE INTEREST OF AN- 
DREW BRYAN IN LOT NO. 12, NORTH OGLE- 
THORPE WARD. 

"This lot was conveyed in 1789 by Jacob C. Wald- 
hauer to Thomas Gibbons, and by Thomas Gibbons, 
on June 1st 1790 to ^Free Andrew.'— H 168, 170. 

"On May 30, 1816, Andrew Marshall receipted to 
James Morrison, for the use of Delia, a free person of 

* Abstract of Title recorded in the Supreme Court of Chatham 
County, Book H, folio 168-170, GG 93, LL 19. By L Beckett. 



24 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Color, for $210, being the purchase money of One- 
fourth of this lot, and agreed to make titles on his re- 
turn from the North. Whether or Not he ever made 
titles does not appear from the records. — GG 93. 

" On Oct 5th 1812 Fanny Bryan conveyed to Richard 
Richardson, guardian of Andrew Marshall, One-fourth 
of lot No 12 Originally purchased by Andrew Bryan 
from Thomas Gibbons, and by Andrew Bryan con- 
veyed to Fanny Bryan, — so recited in this deed ; but 
the conveyance from Andrew Bryan to Fanny Bryan 
is not recorded. — LL 19.^' 



While greatly troubled with these persecutions and 
removals, they seemed to have some anxiety of mind 
in another direction. Here they were alone, no asso- 
ciation with other religious bodies ; enemies questioning 
the validity of their organization as a church, as well 
as the ordination of the pastor; some weak members 
of the body feeling, if we are truly a church of Christ, 
I why all these troubles? There was but one Baptist 
association then existing in Georgia. Rev. Abraham 
Marshall, who organized them and ordained their pas- 
tor, was a member of that body. The Georgia Asso- 
ciation was organized in 1784. Its operations were 
in the upper part of the State, not easy of communi- 
cation. It met at Brier Creek, in Burke County, 
about ninety miles from their church, in May, 1790, 
and a letter was sent from the church asking their 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 25 

opinion as to the validity of the constitution of their 
church and the ordination of their minister, Rev. An- 
drew Bryan, which had been effected two years before 
by Rev. Abraham Marshall alone. To which they 
gave answer, that as it was an extraordinary case they 
gave their sanction. 

Providentially, Mr. Marshall himself was moderator 
of this association at this particular session, and ex- 
plained the embarrassment under which he labored. 
He said, " There I was alone, and no other minister 
within call. I felt it might appear an assumption of 
episcopal power; yet all things were ripe, and the 
interesting body of converts was suffering for want of 
organization and an administrator. The thing wanted 
doing, and I did it." And all has worked well. 
From that time until 1795 the church was a member 
of the Georgia Association, and was only dismissed, 
with twenty-three other churches, to form a new in- 
terest. At this meeting her membership, as reported, 
was three hundred and eighty-one, notwithstanding 
they were passing through fiery trials at this period. 

The church was now encamped at Brampton's barn, 
with some degree of peaceful worship. Their late 
suffering from persecution having become known in 
the city and county, their patience, fortitude, and faith 
fully tried, elicited some sympathy from the better- 
thinking white citizens. Yet their Christian life was 



26 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

SO beset with /ears of other persecutions that it was 
finally resolved to appeal to the authorities. 

An extensive petition was drawn up for them by 
an able and influential lawyer, Lachlan Mcintosh, 
Esq. Mr. Bryan took this document and commenced 
a pilgrimage to the leading men of the city and county, 
asking their endorsement, which is here copied ver- 
batim from the original, now in our possession. 



"To THE Hon"" the Mayor and Aldermen of 

THE City of Savannah. 

^^ The petition of sundry of the dtizena humbly sheweth — 
" That the Negroes and Slaves, by the assistance of 
many of the Friends of Religion in Savannah, in 
different parts of the State, and from in the state of 
S° Carolina, at some expence & trouble, have erected a 
meeting House, and have been regularly supplied with 
a Pastor, extreamly well adapted to thier capacities 
and situations, and who is better qualified to instruct 
them in the duties of thier states then any other per- 
son would be, though of greater Abilities — 

"The influence of vital religion on the human He^rt, 
in every rank and situation of life, and invariable 
tendency, in proportion to its operation, is to subdue 
the turbulent passions — promote a spirit of meekness 
& moderation — A contentment with the lot and situa- 
tion — A resignation to the will of Providence, as order- 
ing & directing all the events of this life by unerring 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 27 

wisdom and for the most possitive good of the crea- 
ture — 

" That ever since the society has been established it 
has been a standing rule to admit none who have not 
only the Approbation but the recommendation of thier 
Masters for thier good morals & faithful! behaviour — 
as individuals and a Society^ they have been eminent 
for thier orderly conduct at the place of thier meeting 
— for thier meek and inoffensive carriage towards the 
Citizens — for thier submission & obedient behaviour to 
thier Masters & Mistresses. From the strict discipline 
that is kept up, if we may judge from the past, there 
is the most rational grounds for insuring the same 
peaceable & quiet behaviour in future — 

"Your Petitioners, from personal knowledge, are 
fully satisfied that there are many instances in the City 
and Neighborhood of Savannah of bad and evil dis- 
posed Negroes & Slaves, who have been detected in 
thier villainies, and it seemed out of the power of 
the several punishment to deter them from a repetition 
of thier crimes ; but since thier becoming members of 
Andrew's Society, and thier attendance on his preach- 
ing have been entirely reclaimed ; they have given the 
highest proofs of the happy tendency of religion in the 
humblest situation, on the smallest capacities, and of 
some desperately wicked, and notorious for almost 
every vice, becoming the most valuable & trusty slaves 
thier Masters have in their possession — 

" From the irreproachable character thier Pastor has 
long maintained together with his Deacons & Elders, 
they have deservedly great influence over this society. 



28 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Thier being under the inspection of one of the most 
numerous Denominations in America. The evidence 
they have long given in thier daily walk and conver- 
sation in thier lives and characters, of the purity & 
the excellency of the Doctrines they possess. The 
desire they have to assemble is to get good, to become 
better slaves & better Christians — It would seem that 
a society from such motives, and regulated by such 
principals, could never interrupt the peace of the City 
— If your Petitioners might be permitted to express 
thier own thoughts, from these facts, in opposition to 
the suspicions which some people may seem to harbor 
— that if this society should be permitted to Assemble 
themselves for the purpose of Religious worship, they 
will pervert the privilege for base ends — for disorder 
& Confusion — and to give unnecessary alarms to the 
Citizens, are altogether groundless. Besides if there 
should be any disorder brooding from this quarter, 
thier Pastors, Deacons, and leading members would be 
the first to receive and the best to depend upon, for 
every information — So that from motives of policy it 
would be the highest wisdom, to attach rather than 
alienate the interest of the leading members, & they 
would be found to be usefull & valuable instruments in 
the hands of the Hon^^® Council, in cases of real emer- 
gency — It has been hinted by some of the friends, in 
favour of the prohibition, that the Doors of the differ- 
ent' Churches in the City should be opened to them — 
This would be impracticable for it is known that when 
they are assembled in large numbers, from constitu- 
tional peculiarities, they are extreamly disagreeable to 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 29 

every audience. There seems therefore, no other al- 
ternative, but, either, to permit them to assemble at 
thier own house, and in thier own way, or entirely 
deprive them the privilege of attending public wor- 
ship. This we presume the Hon^^* Council would not 
do. Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a 
society of Christians, that have walked hitherto with 
so much order and decorum, who have been so emi- 
nently exemplary by thier inoffensive lives & Conver- 
sations, and have given such ample testimony of thier 
purity, & the influence of the doctrines they profess 
may no longer be deprived of the privilege of wor- 
shiping the God of thier exist-ance, according to the 
dictates of their consciences and in thier own way. 
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray 
&c &c — 

" LACH^ MCINTOSH" 



As before said, Thomas Gibbons conveyed to An- 
drew Bryan, or, as stated in the deed. Free Andrew, 
Lot No. 12, North Oglethorpe Ward, bounded now 
by Mill Street on the south and Indian Street Lane 
on the north, and about midway between Ann and 
Farm Streets. The titles bear date June 1, 1790 
and 1791. Mr. Bryan and his people erected another 
rough wooden building upon this lot in the city, where 
the church worshipped the next year at special times. 
Those members upon the plantations along the Savan- 



30 ^^E FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CBVRCS 

nab River still meeting for communion at Brampton 
every three months. 

These periodic meetings continued during the years 
1791 and 1792, their petition being in the hands of 
the city authorities ; the then place of meeting being 
within the extended limits of the city, and near the 
suburban village of "St. Gall/' though at that time 
it was called in the woods, so thickly was it surrounded 
with shrubbery. About this time, through the kind 
feelings of the owner of Mr. Bryan, he had obtained 
his freedom for a nominal consideration, and com- 
manding his own time, he of course devoted it exclu- 
sively to the work of his ministry. In moying around 
in the community he always appeared decently clothed, 
grave, but very polite, especially to the whites; and 
thus by his general deportment gathered toward him 
many influential friends; and, therefore, through 
Messrs. William Bryan and James Whitfield, as 
trustees, he purchased for thirty pounds sterling, equal 
to about one hundred and fifty dollars. Lot No. 7, 
Middle Oglethorpe Ward, ninety-five feet front and 
one hundred and thirty-two and a half feet deep, upon 
which this church now stands. The deeds are dated 
September 4, 1793, and conveyed by Matthew Mott 
and Catharine, his wife. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 31 

''ABSTRACT RELATING TO NO. 7 MIDDLE OGLE- 
THORPE WARD, ON SOUTH SIDE OF BRYAN ST., 
WHEREON THE CHURCH STANDS. 

**This lot appears for the first time in the records of 
deeds of this County, on Sept 4, 1793, when Matthew 
Mott and Catharine his wife convey it, for the price of 
thirty pounds, equal to $150, to Wm Bryan and James 
Whitfield, * in trust for a free black man called and 
known by the name of Andrew Bryan, a preacher of 
the Gospel by lawful authority ordained' The de- 
scription given of the lot is in these words ' All that 
lot of land known as No. 7 in the Village of St Gall, 
fronting Bryan or Odingsell Street, 95 feet front 132J 
feet deep, and bounded West and South by land of the 
late Dr. Zubly, deceased. East on a lot of Richard 
Williams, deceased, North on the Main Street leading 
from Yamacraw to the brick Meeting house. — N. 117.' 

"No further mention is made of this lot until 1840, 
When Edward Coppee, who appears to be the Surviving 
Trustee, appoints Wm W Wash, Richard D. Arnold 
and Abram Harrison as Co-trustees to hold the property 
with him. The facts are briefly described in the deed 
as follows: ^On July 3, 1797, Andrew Bryan, a free 
black man and preacher of the gospel by lawful au- 
thority ordained conveyed to Thos. Polhill, Wm Mat- 
thews, David Fox and Josiah Fox, in trust for the use 
of the Baptist Church of Blacks, of which Said An- 
drew Bryan was pastor, one equal moiety being the half 
of the lot (described in this abstract). Thomas Polhill 
and David and Josiah Fox died, and Wm Matthews, 



32 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the Survivor, by Virtue of the power and authority 
contained in the original deed of trust from Andrew 
Bryan, on Dec 6, 1824 appointed Moses Cleland, Jo- 
siah Penfield, and Edward Coppee as Trustees in the 
place of the three deceased. Edward Coppee is now 
the Sole Survivor of the four last named Trustees, and 
appoints the three persons mentioned in this deed, — 
W. W. Wash, R. D. Arnold & Abram Harrison in the 
place of the three deceased ones. — 3 L 279.^ 

" In 1867 R D Arnold, Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis 
C. Tebean, Trustees, transferred the property to Alex 
Harris & others. Trustees, and here the history ends, 
in records of deeds &c, except as to Mortgages given 
upon the property, which are all marked concelled. — 
3Z26. 

"It appears from the foregoing that Andrew Bryan 
conveyed only one half of the lot, in trust for church 
purposes. The other half appears for the first time in 
a deed made in 1884 by the Extrs of Edwin T. Wink- 
ler, who was one of the heirs of Shadrach Winkler, to 
Chas H. Ehlers. How Shadrach Winkler became the 
owner, I cannot discover — No deed conveying it to him 

appears of record'. — 5 M 1 Z 1. 

" I. BECKETT 

" Manager Abst of Title OflBce 

"June 21st 1887*" 

Upon the east end of this lot Mr. Bryan erected a 
small wooden building for his residence, and removed 

* Records of the Superior Court of Chatham County, Book N, 
117. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 33 

into it with his family in 1794, and soon after com- 
menced the erection of a church edifice, forty-two by 
forty-nine feet. About the same time the rough build- 
ing worshipped in was rolled over to this Lot No. 7, 
and placed at the southern portion of the ground, near 
the centre of the east and west line. These positions 
are defined thus strictly, as they will show the care of 
the old leader to have his meetings as little conspicuous 
as possible. The whole lot was enclosed by a high 
board fence,.and tlje residence and meeting-houses were 
all inside the enclosure, the entrance being from the 
northwest end by a gate. 

It will be borne in mind that Mr. Bryan held meet- 
ings under the permission of Chief-Justice Osbourne, 
while at Brampton, from which the church had now 
removed to the city. Their meetings here were held 
merely by suflFerance of the patrol officers of the' 
county, under individual certificates from the owners 
of the persons who attended worship, and the then 
known favorable opinion held by the community of 
the spirit and purpose of these meetings and their 
pastor's popularity ; but with all this, they met under 
great fear and trembling. And so there gathered on the 
Lord's Day a few who lived "in the city, and about four 
times a year the members from the country, when bap- 
tism and communion were administered, until 1795, 
and the big meeting-house, as it was then called by the 



34 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

people in just pride at the peace and privilege they 
enjoyed, was completed. 

It was slow in building, as facilities for getting ma- 
terials were difficult ; but the framing timber was good 
and solid, hewed out in the forest by its members, and 
the weather-boarding was all neatly planed smooth. 
The building was very plain, without any attempt at 
architectural beauty, — almost square and box-like, high 
pitched roof, with small windows ; one wide door in the 
west centre of the building, and twcb smaller doors near 
each end on the south side, leading into the open space 
of the lot between the praise-house, as the smaller 
building was then called, and the pulpit in the east 
centre, built very plain, shaped like an acorn, with a 
raise from the floor of about three feet, plain board 
front, a neat cushioned pad for the Bible, and board 
seat which would accommodate three. No part of the 
building inside was' ceiled, rafters and studs in their 
rough state, straight-back pews without doors; and 
the only pretension to neatness was in the smoothing 
of the backs and seats and rounding and beading the 
edges and tops. No part of the building was painted 
or whitewashed, but plain and pure as from the car- 
penter's hands. 

Who can estimate the anxious cares, the simple but 
fervent prayers, connected with the labor of erecting 
this building? The men at work were greatly en- 



IN NORTH AMERICA,, 35 

couraged by the sisters, who would at times even assist 
in the work, holding up the ends of the boards while 
the workmen scribed, cut, and nailed, as some of those 
old Christian sisters, in after years, describing these 
times, have told us. But, oh, joy to the heart ! praise 
to the Lord! the building is finished, and the church 
has rest from persecution or molestation in their Sab- 
bath-day worship. And so, without any other formal 
ceremony, save an earnest dedicatory prayer of thanks- 
giving by their administrator and pastor, the males clad 
in their best garments, the elder females with snow- 
white aprons and neck and head handkerchiefs, stand- 
ing in grave and silent awe while the throne of grace 
was being addressed, they entered and possessed the 
first sanctuary dedicated to Christ Jesus by the Hamite 
race in Georgia. 

In this chapter we have seen the incipient planting 
of this the first negro Baptist church in this State (and 
it may be in the United States), its early growth, and 
the attempts made to uproot it; its transplanting at 
'Brampton, and again temporarily on Mill Street; the 
storms of sorrow through which it passed, the fiery 
furnace in which it was tried and purified, then 
weighed in the balance, but not found wanting, and 
we may now proceed to examine its growth. 



36 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTEE II. 

" Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the 
ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the 
seat of the scornful. 

" But his delight is in the law of the Lord ; and in his law 
doth he meditate day and night. 

" And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, 
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall 
not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." — Psalm i. 
1-3. 

The Master, in his first sermon preached, logically 
put down the basis of judging the true disciples. He 
says, ^* Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but 
a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. . . . Where- 
fore by their fruits ye shall know them;"* and we 
find the Church from this period going forth sowing 
gospel seed and bearing precious fruit. The years 

1795-1796 were years of great activity among the 

• 

Baptists in the upper parts of the State ; and while the 
noble pioneers of the cause, Abraham Marshall, the 
Mercers, Walkers, and others, were carrying the blood- 
stained banner of the cross along the mountain coun- 
try, Andrew Bryan was dembnstrating an eternal truth 

*Matthewvii. 17-20. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. . 37 

that our " Go/l is no respecter of persons, but in every 
nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, 
is accepted with him/^ and that to the negro race it is 
given to carry and spread the gospel along the sea- 
board. Many were being added to this church, some 
of them being young colored men of intelligence and 
brightness, partaking much of the spirit of wisdom and 
understanding that characterized the Master whom 
they served ; and their minds becoming illumined by 
their faith in Jesus, quickened by his Holy Spirit, 
their help to their pastor and usefulness in the church 
became apparent, and they became a power for good 
in this land, working helpfully and harmoniously for 
the peace and prosperity of the State and the glory of 
the kingdom of Christ. 

The few white Baptists in this and iadjoining coun- 
ties,, seeing, no doubt, the efforts for Christ^s cause 
made by these humble slaves, — the self-sacrifice, forti- 
tude, and perseverance exhibited by them, while they, 
with superior conditions and advantages of life, had 
attempted the constitution of a Baptist interest earlier 
in the history of the State and failed, — now became 
inspired to make another attempt. By the preaching 
of Mr. Andrew Bryan, in 1789, the highly-gifted son 
of an Episcopal minister, Thomas Polhill, and his wife, 
became awakened, and were finally converted and bap- 
tized in Effingham County, the Lutheran stronghold. 

8 



38 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Mr. Polhill, with some others, made <;he effort and 
succeeded so far as to procure a lot and erect partly a 
building on Franklin Square; but failing to secure 
enough members to organize a church, and their build- 
ing but half completed, they for the time being again 
abandoned the constituting, and rented their building 
to the Presbyterians, who had just lost theirs by fire, 
and thus became worshippers with them. But this 
branch of God's right-hand planting was steadily 
evangelizing among the colored people, native born, in 
the city, the surrounding plantations, and among the 
Africans then being imported in numbers from their 
country to our shores and sold for plantation purposes, 
— very many of whom were early taught to know the 
true God and embrace his son Jesus Christ, and so lost 
their pall of deep sorrow in being torn ruthlessly away 
from home, kindred, and kind, into a seemingly inex- 
tricable bondage, mental and moral; but now, with 
this new light of the gospel in their benighted souls, 
being born again of God after passing through gener- 
ations of idolatry and ignorance, have become free 
indeed by the truth preached to them by those of kin- 
dred blood and race, though of a different tongue. 
Yet the Spirit helped their understanding to the exer- 
cise of a living faith, such as fear and the suspicion of 
treachery would prevent their receiving from the most 
learned and loving white person in America. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 39 

Many of .these Dative Africans became eminent 
Christians according to their sphere of life, and sev- 
eral served in positions in the church as deacons andj y 
upon the plantations as householders (as some of thei y 
leaders of the branch society were called); and io 
nearly every instance their moral and religious char- 
acter was equal to the best among their brethren of 
American birth. And this feature, we doubt not, early 
suggested the idea to our white brethren of designating 
a church composed wholly of colored persons as an 
African Church. 

It will be remembered that this church became a 
member of the old Georgia Association in 1790, and 
so continued as the only strictly negro church in 
that body until 1794, when the meeting was held at 
" Powell Creek Meeting-house," near Powelton, when, 
in response to letters from several churches requesting 
a division, " it was agreed that all the churches in the 
lower part of our union who see fit to form another 
meeting of this nature have our consent; and that one 
be called the Upper District Georgia Baptist Associa- 
tion and the other the Lower District Georgia Baptist 
Association. The first meeting of the Lower District 
Association to be on Saturday before the fourth Lord's 
Day in September, at Buckhead Davis Meeting-house, 
the brethren John Thomas, Jephtha Wining, and Silas 
Mercer to attend as messengers. The meeting of the 



40 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Upper District Association to be at Kiokee New Meet- 
ing-house, on Saturday before the third Lord's Day in 
October, which Association is to hold the present Con- 
stitution and records/' Rev. Silas Mercer was ap- 
pointed to preach the Association sermon when they 
met in 1795, and the Saturday before the fifth Sabbath 
in September was set apart as a day of fasting and 
prayer. We copy this almost verbatim as recorded in 
the Georgia Baptist histdi'y, to show the careful man- 
ner in which our elder brethren in a division formed 
new interests for the Master, so as not to break the 
union of the churches or associations. It is further 
said that " twenty-two churches were withdrawn at this 
time, among which was the colored church at Savannah, 
which then contained three hundred and eighty-one 
members, their pastor being Andrew Bryan.''* 

The new interest organized in 1785 departed from 
the advice of the parent body so far as adopting a 
title, which was called Hephzibah. It does not appear 
that this church was represented in the lower or new 
body, and we may account for this in the fact that her 
sister churches (white) over in South Carolina failed 
also to attend, and likely they were all considering the 

*0n page 34, "History of the Baptist Denomination in 
Georgia," there is a misnomer. It was Andrew Bryan and not 
Marshall, as Andrew Marshall was not then a member of the 
church. — [Ed.] 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 41 

propriety of organizing a like association for them- 
selves nearer home, — for we well remember that the 
white brethren of our city were then erecting a building 
and endeavoring to constitute another Baptist church 
in Savannah ; but, as we have said, failed in the under- 
taking then, but did at a later day succeed Jn doing so. 
It is greatly to be regretted that the illiterate con- 
dition of this bulwark of grace was such that we can 
find no records or date of its work from 1795 to 1799; 
but it is a well-established fact that the church kept on 
the even tenor of her way ; and it is worthy of remark 
that while our more favored white Baptist brethren 
affiliated under certain circumstances with Pedobaptists, 
yet this humble fold of Christ (though surrounded 
by Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans, and de- 
spite an earnest eflFort by Bishop Asbury to establish 
Methodism about this period) stood firm as the rock 
upon which she was planted. Orthodox in the Baptist 
faith, Jesus himself opened a door to the New Testa- 
ment dispensation of grace in baptism by immersion, 
and which must ever remain the door to communion. 
Her pastor standing firm in this position, immovably 
preaching this doctrine ; not that they or he was learned 
in the doctrines, but by a spiritual intuition that this 
was the way the apostles went, and on Sundays of 
their quarterly meetings (using the then common 
phrase) they might be seen in solemn procession, the 



42 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCti 

whole church marching as if actually going to a burial 
of the dead ; their sweet, plaintive voices heard as they 
went to the river at the foot of what is now known as 
Farm Street, singing the great commission given by 
their loving Lord, as paraphrased by Dr. Watts, and 
lined by one of the brethren or the pastor : 

" Go preach my gospel, saith the Lord ; 
Bid the whole earth my grace receive : 
He shall be saved that trusts my word, 
And he condemned who'll not believe." 

And while this honored servant of God fervently 
appealed to the throne of grace for blessings upon this 
land and country, the prosperity of the city, and the 
upbuilding of the kingdgm of grace here, and that the 
candidates for immersion may receive the kingdom of 
glory by and by, the solemnity and impressiveness of 
the scene were at times awful and inspiring. In these 
earlier days of our fathers' worship at the water-side, 
it was a custom to sing some of the songs of Zion 
while the ordinance was being administered ; and, oh ! 
it was soul-cheering, indeed, to hear them break out 
in joyous acclamation, as the first subject was immersed 
and rose up from under the water, — 

" I am bound for the promised land, 
I am bound for the promised land ; 
Oh, who will come and go with me? 
I am bound for the promised land.'' 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 43 

This was sung as a chorus to some sabject or sentence 
from the Bible^ and kindred to the occasion^ para- 
phrased by some one of the brethren, many of whom 
had wonderful, though crude, poetical gifts, remarkable 
in their conception and application. Numerous were 
those spiritualizing songs ; but this is su£5cient as an 
example of the times, though very many of the hymns 
from the then popular edition of " Watts and Rippons" 
were used in regular church services, recited from the 
book by their pastor or some of the members blessed 
with the ability to read. Two lines of a stanza were 
given out between the period of singing; and such 
was their religious love, memory, and zeal that it was 
common in the prayer-meetings of the plantation so- 
cieties to hear these hymns repeated and sung with 
considerable exactness, though ignorant of letters, even 
by some of Africo- American tongue; and while it is 
also true that the attempt, in some instances, would 
seem to excite ridicule, yet it was very comforting to 
kindred souls. The same may be said of the sacred 
Scriptures, many passages of which were read from 
memory, and by some whole chapters were accurately 
retained and intelligently commented upon ; in broken 
language, perhaps, but to a great degree sound in doc- 
trine and logic. While the church was in the fullest 
sense evangelical in faith and missionary in spirit, its 
strict principle on the communion question was ever 



44 ^ra^E FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

oonspicuous^ — none were invited, or, if known, per- 
mitted to come to the communion-table who were not 
baptized by immersion, coming through the door Christ 
Jesus, as he laid out the way of faith in Jordan. 

Another evidence of the orthodox principle in the 
church was the marital relations of its members. Mr. 
Bryan required candidates for baptism to give the 
fullest proof of their being already married according 
to the tenets of the Bible ; or, had they simply lived 
together loosely, as the slave-custom too commonly 
permitted, to come before him and have this solemn 
service administered ; and all members of the church 
intending to enter into conjugal relations were strictly 
required to report the game to their leader, if on the 
plantations, and to the deacons, if in the city, to be 
reported to the pastor, who read out the banns in pub- 
lic church service, that these relations, so far as in 
the church were possible, should be kept inviolate, as 
Christ has taught they should be. The State recog- 
nized no such lawful relations among the slaves or 
persons of color, and constantly was the church per- 
plexed by the cruel separation of men and wives, 
members of the mystical body of Christ being sold 
away from each other, in some instances, with no ap- 
parent hope of ever meeting again on earth ; and which 
naturally entailed upon the man or woman, as the case 
might be, remaining with the church, the necessity of 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 45 

contracting new relations of the kind; but even in 
such cases the church required sufficient time to elapse^ 
that they might be satisfied there was no hope of re- 
turn^ before marrying again; thus guarding with all 
the power delegated to the church the sacred com- 
mands of JesuS; and throwing the onus wholly upon 
those who dispensed God's laws so unrighteously 
against a people purchased to himself with the precious 
blood of his only and well-beloved Son. Of course, 
many conflicting circumstances arose that baffled their 
reason to remedy. However, the church yet stood ac- 
quitted of what it was not in her power to cure, and 
could but in patience submit to and endure. Thus are 
noted these practices, which are the more remarkable 
among a people having nothing but the Bible as their, 
guide, which but few of them were able to read, and 
that very imperfectly ; yet by using the means of grace 
given them, and with the Holy Spirit's unction upon 
them, inspiring a desire to do simply the will of God, 
proved themselves equal to the interpretation of the 
Scriptures aright, and acting according to the mind of 
the spirit, and in faith and practice Qltjhodox Baptists. 



8* 



46 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTEE III. 

" Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the glory of the 
Lord is risen upon thee." — Isaiah Ix. 1. 

We now bring the history of the church to the 
beginning of the year A.D. 1796. Under the pro- 
tecting care of Jehovah, led by his grace, they find 
themselves upon ground purchased by themselves, and 
within walls erected by their industry and love of 
Jesus, as will hereafter be shown ; yet their liberty to 
worship permanently and peaceably was uncertain. 
The mayor and aldermen of the corporation having 
been petitioned, and their permission, after waiting 
for a long while, having at last been declined, an 
appeal was made to the commander of the county 
militia, and, thanks to several sympathizing white 
friends, they procured the following permission : 

''PERMISSION FOR ANDREW & HIS SOCIETY TO 

PREACH ON SUNDAYS. 

" Savannah 19th March 1790 
" In as much as I deem it inconsistent with itxe Spirit 
and principles of the Christian Religion that any Set 
of People under the Sun Should be debarred exercising 
that Religion in the way they best understand it, and 
in the manner best fitted to their Capacities and Situ- 
ations, when Conducted with that Decorum and decency 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 47 

which becometh good Christians ; And it appearing that 
a Great Number of the Most respectable Citizens in 
Savannah have Signed a recommendation in favor of 
the bearer Andrew and his Society that they should be 
permitted to assemble and preach in the Meeting house 
built by them for that purpose at Yaraacraw, so that 
their Meetings were Confined to Sunday between Sun 
Bise and Sun Set ; And as the Corporation have here- 
tofore declined Acting on a Petition preferred to them 
for their Sanction, and it resting more particularly with 
the oflScers of the Militia. — I do hereby give unto the 
Said Andrew as Pastor, and to his Elders and Society, 
my full approbation to meet and perform Divine Wor- 
ship, in the Meeting-house at Yamacraw, on the Sab- 
bath day, between Sun Rise and Sun Set, so long ak 
they Conduct themselves with due decency and order; 
and that the persons attending thereon have a pass from 
their masters or Mistresses for that purpose ; And I do 
Recommend to the oflScers Commanding Companies in 
the first Battalion, to give their Sanction for the above 
purpose, and that they will Cause an inspection as often, 
and at Such times, as they may Deem Necessary, in 
order that no abuse of this indulgence may take place. 

" D. B. Mitchell, Major. 
1st Battalion C R — 
Joseph Roberts 

. James Box Young 
John MooltE 
Geo. Throop 
James Robertson 
Francis Doyle.^' 



48 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

I wish the prayer of the petition to he granted, the meeting 
to he on Sundays only in the day time. — Geo. Houstuon. 

Tho". M. WoODBRIDaK. 

Rich*. Wylly. 
Barth^. Waldburger. 
No ohjection to the within petition provided they meet on 
Sundays only, and that at twelve o'clock and hy no means at 
night. — W™. Moore. 

John Habersham. 
If a proper white Clergyman was appointed to instruct the 
Negroes in religion I see no impropriety in their attending him 
on Sundays only with tickets from their masters. 

John P. Ward. 
I wish the prayer of the petition to he granted, as every Man 
ought to enjoy his own religion. — Thomas Pitt. 

I agree & approve of the within Petition provided the Hours 
of Worship are after Sun Rise in the Morning & ending hefore 
Sun Set on Sundays only. — R. Wylly. 
John Wallace. 
Ben Wall. 
Joseph Dunlap. 
Robert Bolton. 
I Signe the ahove petition finding that my Negros that atend 
puhlicly worshap ar to he Trusted. — John Millen. 
H". Anciaux. 
DanI John Green. 
Liherty of Conscience, & a Right to serve God according to 
its dictates are Natural priviledges, and none ought to he pre- 
vented from enjoying them. — Tho". F. Williams. 
*^Dav*. Montaiqut. 
Ven Bond. 
James Montfort. 
John Y. Noll. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 49 

Let them meet to pray when they please. 

D'. Moses Vallott. 

Samuel Soffam. 

Dan^ M«Garvey. 

W". Bird. 

Lewis Bird. 

Matthew Mott. 

Tho". Harrison. 

Jn«. H. Roberts. 

J. Whitefield. 

John Hamilton. 

Lach" M«Intosh. 
I wish the prayer of the above petition may be granted. 

Jos. Clay, ju'. 
I agree. 

Ben. Lloyd. 
. Edw. Lloyd. 
•Ja". Johnston, Sen'. 
N. Johnston. 
Eben'. Hills, 
godin guerard. 
I wish the purport of this Pef^ granted — for Sundays only and 
that in tlie day time. — Justus H. Scheuber. 
John G. Williamson. 
Charles Harris (for the age of Eeason). 
I wish the prayer of the above petition to be granted, as I think 
all men have a right to worship God in theire owne way, Espe- 
cially as no possible danger Can arise to the Community from 
theire meeting in the day time. — Mordacai Sheftall. 

I have no objection provided their Meeting be in the day time 
& on Sundays only. — John Glen. 
James B. Young agreeing with M'. Glen. 
I agree with the above. — M. Briskell. 



50 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCEt 

I recommend that Stated hours should be fixed for their meet- 
ing, on Sundays only, and that a Bell may be procured to call 
them together. — Jambs Mobsman. 

Thomas H. M°Caule wishes as many of the rights of man as 
possible restored to the blacks, To worship God according to con- 
science is certainly one of those rights. 

Men ought not to be prevented from worshipping that God, 
who gave them existence — therefore I hope this their prayer may 
be heard. — T. Netherclif. 

I approve of this petition, provided they meet in the day and 
on Sundays only at stated hours. — J. Netlb. 

John Y. White wishes prosperity to the same. 

The present Law of the State forbids a public assemblage of 
Negroes — therefore, the privileges claimed by the pet", ought to 
be referred to the Legislature — I agree in this — that there ought 
not to be any hindrance to a free tolerance of public worship to 
my people — W. Stephens. 

I agree to the above mode. — P. V. Morel. 

With this permit pastor and people felt more secure, 
and their meetings were more free and frequent. How 
much lighter must have been the hearts of his brethren, 
as the old servant of the Lord, their tried pastor and 
counsellor, from his pulpit offered thanks to God on 
that Sunday morning in March, 1796, for his mercies 
in procuring for them this immunity from their ene- 
mies, and, holding up the document before them, bade 
them walk the more humbly, and serve the more faith- 
fully, that they might hold fast that which they had 
and not again lose it. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 51 

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what 
progress the church at this time made in numbers, 
from the report made to the Georgia Association, in 
V 1790, of three hundred and eighty-one members; but 
there is no doubt that, so far as circumstances per- 
mitted, the gain of the church spiritually was equal to 
the blessings she had temporally. God had given 
them all they possessed, and their pastor, though pur- 
chasing through his white friends and in his individual 
name, yet knew it all was the gift of God to his believ- 
ing, trusting people, and on the 3d day of July, 1797, 
" conveyed in trust, for the use and better security, to 
the members of his church, to Messrs. Thomas Polhill, 
William Matthews, David Fox, and Josiah Fox, one 
equal moiety being the half of all that lot of land 
(most part of said lot) . . . known as No. 7, in the 
village of St. Gall, fronting on Bryan or Odingsell 
Street.'^ So states the deed in part, which will be 
found in full hereafter. The consideration named wag 
the same as that originally paid for the land, thirty 
pounds sterling; the terms of the trust being per- 
petual, the survivors having power to fill vacancies 
whenever they should occur. It will be noticed that 
the first named in the trust, Major Polhill and wife, 
were converted by the preaching of Mr. Bryan in his 
yard at Newington, in EfiBngham County, eighteen 
miles above Savannah, in 1789, and were both baptized 



52 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

by Rev. Alexander Scott, of Black Swamp, South 
Carolina, who, by his zeal for the cause, was instru- 
mental in the constitution of the Newington Church, 
in 1798; being the oldest white Baptist church in the 
lower part of Georgia. Thus God blessed his seed of 
grace sown in the hearts of these humble slaves even 
to whites, wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud 
but giveth grace to the humble. 

The close of the century found this church doing a 
good work for the Lord, and is also memorable in the 
loss to her of the first and ever-faithful deacon, Samp- 
son Bryan, own brother to the pastor, and one among 
the first fruits of his ministry who became a deacon 
upon the constitution of the church, suffered severely 
like his brother in their great trials, passed with him 
as through fire, and came out but more purified and 
strong, never faltering or failing in any duty to his 
master, Jesus. He lived and rejoiced to see the old 
ship of Zion riding prosperously upon the sea of time, 
having safely weathered many gales ; and then, on the 
23d of January, 1799, his Lord called him home, to 
enter into that rest that remaineth to the people of 
God; and though his death to him was no doubt 
great gain, the loss to the church and to their pastor, 
his elder brother, can hardly be told in words. He 
was buried in the colored persons' cemetery of the 
icity, his grave vaulted over with bricks, and a large 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 53 

marble stone laid upon it with this inscription^ which 
remains to this day : 

" Here lies the body of Sampson Bryan, who departed this life 
January 23d, 1799, aged 63 years. He was the first deacon of 
the First Colored Baptist Church in this city, and served faith- 
fully in that office until his death." 

The feeble but earnest struggle of the Newington 
interest was all the Baptist strength east of Burke 
County, in this State; when, in 1799, Rev. Henry 
Holcombe was invited to Savannah by the pewholders 
of the congregation worshipping on Franklin Square, 
consisting of Presbyterians and a very few Baptists, 
who had built the house of worship, yet were not 
sufficiently strong to constitute a church ; and so were 
jointly worshipping together, when Dr. Holcombe ac- 
cepted the call to supply them. 

His relation to and influence upon this church, as 
also of the Baptist interest of the whole State, war- 
rants us in giving him more than a passing notice in 
this history. " Rev. Henry Holcombe, D.D., was born 
in Prince Edward County, Virginia^ September 22, 
1762. While he was yet a child his father moved to 
South Carolina, where (to use his own words) at eleven 
years of age he completed all the education he ever 
received from a living preceptor."* As a young 

♦"Georgia Baptists, Historical and Biographical," by J. H. 
Campbell. 



54 I'S^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

man he served in the JRevolutionary war as a cap- 
tain of cavalry. He was converted to Christ while 
so serving, and joined the Presbyterian Church at 
the age of twenty-two. He immediately began to 
preach the gospel, and, it is said, his first sermon 
was preached in the saddle, at the head of his 
command, on the 11th of September, 1785. Not 
long after he became convinced that the Baptist 
principles of religion were right, and he rode twenty 
miles on horseback to be baptized by immersion. 
He was soon ordained, and became a distinguished 
preacher, meeting with extraordinary success in his 
work. Among his converts were his wife and an 
only brother of hers, and their mother; also his 
own father, Grimes Holcombe, was converted from 
Pedobaptist views. All these he had the pleasure 
of baptizing. 

He was pastor of the Euhaw Baptist Church of 
South Carolina, though he resided at Beaufort, when 
in 1799 he was invited to Savannah; and we repeat, 
truly his coming into the State rendered great service 
to the Baptist cause in general and this church and 
Savannah in particular ; and from the time he became 
acquainted with Rev. Mr. Bryan, and the history of 
his church and people, ever manifested the deepest in- 
terest in their welfare, both moral and religious, as 
will be seen in history, and as long as he remained in 



IN ifORTH AMERICA, 65 

the State, and even after removing to Philadelphia, 
where he went in 1811.* 

So much success attended his ministry that in 1800 
it was judged proper to organize a Baptist church of 
his white brethren in Savannah. The constituent 
members were twelve, — three males and nine females. 
Dr. Holcombe soon after was called as the pastor, and 
served as such eleven years. There is no doubt but 
that this First Colored Church was remarkably success- 
ful in its humble sphere, and some of its past history 
coming to the doctor's notice, in his late field of service 
just across the boundary in Carolina, had made an im- 
pression, and he was not long in seeing in it a means 
of spreading the Baptist influence in this section of the 
State. 

The constitution of this Savannah church gave three 
to the eastern part of the State: the First Colored, 
organized January 20, 1788; the Newington, 1793; 
the Savannah, 1800, They met in convention at 
Savannah in 1802, and organized the Savannah River 
Association. Who the officers were we have no knowl- 
edge, as the file of minutes has been lost, it appears ; 
but this we are certain of, that the churches were 
enrolled according to the date of constitution, and 
the First Colored Church stood at the head of 

* Benedict's " History of the Baptists," vol. ii. p. 186. 



56 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the roll;* its membership was reported at 650, and 
to strengthen the body it was resolved that two 
more colored churches be constituted out of the mem- 
bership of the First, and that two more colored min- 
isters be ordained as their pastors. While we may 
see clearly the wisdom and zeal of our fathers to en- 
large and strengthen our Baptist field, no doubt sug- 
gested by the acute mind of Dr. Holcombe, it does 
also appear that the character and standing of the 
pioneer in this section, Rev. Bryan, stood out strongly 
insisting that in justice, as well as the eternal fitness 
of the purpose, he should have some ministering 
colleagues of his own race, and that the claims and 
fitness of some of the young men whom he had led to 
Christ by his preaching should be considered ; and it 
appears that the old pastor also held that his church 
should be consulted in the premises and give her 
consent ; and he carried his point. Subsequent events 
proved that this was the will of God to perpetuate 
colored churches. 

Among the male members of this church showing 
gifts were Henry Cunningham, Henry Francis, and 
Evans, Grate, deacons; but of the three, Cunning- 
ham's gifts and circumstances seemed to favor him 
above his fellows. Yet it appears that the minds of 

* Benedict's " History of the Baptists, '^ vol. ii. p. 186. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 67 

both church and pastor were different, for soon after 
the adjournment of the Association the church called 
a council and ordained Brother Henry Francis, May 
23, 1802. Rev. Jesse Peters, of Augusta, preached 
from Mark xv. 16 ; prayer by Eev. A. Bryan ; 
charge by Dr. Holcombe. This seemed, of course, 
to give him preferment over his other brethren for 
the new churches under contemplation; and as to 
Brother Cunningham he must have so felt it, for he 
requested his letter, — which, being granted, he put in 
the Savannah Baptist Church (white) and was received 
into fellowship as a member, — as did also several 
others who followed him, among whom, as has been 
named to us, were Brother Thomas Anderson and 
Sisters Betsey Cunningham, Silvia Whitfield, Silvia 
Monax, Charlotte Walls, Leah Simpson, Susan Jack- 
son ; Brethren Scipio Gordon and Richard Houston, — 
all of whom afterwards became active organizers of 
the Second Church.* This seemed to have been the 
first serious misunderstanding among themselves as a 
church, and requests for letters became so numerous 
that the old pastor refused to grant any more, and 
threatened to expel them for insubordination ; yet all 
who were dismissed, residing in the city, joined Dr, 

— -—  -  - - III I---II- -_■--■ 1 — p— 

* " Reminiscences," by Samuel Cope, a young member at this 
period. 



58 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Holcombe's church and augmented his small body 
considerably. This showed also conclusively that i 
was the early intention of our white brethren to en 
courage and foster a mixed membership of white an 
colored, which in after years, as will be seen, com 
pletely checked the constitution of churches wholly of 
the negro race, and the ordination of negro preachers. 

It may be here remarked that the members wm) 
took letters and. became members among the whites 
were mostly of the house-servants in the city, whose 
condition and circumstances were highly favorable at 
that day. Many of this class in after years, like their 
pastors, purchased their freedom, having, in some in- 
stances, previously been permitted to hire their time 
and work in various occupations for wages. Their 
surplus over the amount charged by their owners was 
often larger than what they paid. Such persons would 
very naturally have, as members of the church, some 
independence of feeling and judgment, innate in a 
Baptist mind from the very nature of their faith and 
its teachings. Thus feeling ran high and much ex- 
citement was felt, if but little could be expressed, in 
making this division of the parent body and selecting 
the brethren who were to take the leading part in these 
new interests. However, it seems that Dr. Holcombe 
threw his influence in favor of Brother Henry Cun- 
ningham; and when, on December 26, 1802, the first 



/ 



\ 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 59 

of the two new churches was organized, Mr. Cunning- 
ham was called to the pastorate, though Mr. Francis 
had been already first ordained with that view. 

In making the division it seems that as one of the 
churches was to be located in the city, it was planted 
at its east end, in the midst of the residences of some 
of the wealthiest white citizens. Most of the members 
composing this church were those residing in the city, 
— intelligent domestic servants and some mechanics, — 
who were ever under the eye of their owners, which 
gave them great protection and peaceable worship; 
and so that church became the pride of the young 
colored people of Savannah. The other church was 
planted on the Ogeechee for the accommodation of 
the slaves upon the plantations along that river, 
some fourteen miles south of the city. 'To the Second 
Colored Church in the city were given about 200, 
and to the Ogeechee 250 members from this parent 
church, all regularly dismissed from her, and Rev. 
Henry Francis was given the pastorate.^ So there were 
now five Baptist churches in the Association, as fol- 
lows : First Colored, Savannah, Rev. Andrew Bryan, 
membership 400 ; Newington, EflBngham County, Rev. 
John Goldwire, 16 ; Savannah Baptist Church, Rev. 
Henry Holcombe, 67 ; Second Colored Church, Savan- 
nah, Rev. .Henry Cunningham, 200; and Ogeechee 
Baptist Church, Rev. Henry Francis, 250 members. 



60 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

So they were reported at their associational meeting 
in 1803. Two other churches above Savannah, in 
Greorgia, united with them that year also, — namely. 
Black Creek Baptist Church, Rev. J. Peacock, pastor ; 
and Lot's Creek Baptist Church, Rev. Henry Cook, 
pastor, 45 members. 

To show the comparative growth of this First Church, 
we give them as reported again in January, 1804, in 
their order : First Colored, membership 476 ; Newing- 
ton, 23 ; Savannah Baptist, 77 ; Second Colored, 230 ; 
Ogeechee, 276; Black Creek, 96; Lot's Creek, 59. 
Such were the blessings of God showered upon the de- 
nomination this year that the Association adjourned to 
meet again in November, when five other churches 
from across the river in South Carolina joined them. 
This church reported at that meeting having baptized 
107; membership, 544; lost by death, 33, 21 of whom 
perished in a storm that winter. The other two 
churches she organized were also blessed with increase. 
The Second Colored had baptized that year 29, and the 
Ogeechee, 47. These figures will simply show that in 
the zeal inspired by this union of churches and minis- 
ters of Christ our Lord seemed to show his purpose 
to keep this old mother-church of the seaboard of 
Georgia in the van of the army of Christian progress, 
— even at this early day's dawn of hope for the race in 
America. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 61 

The thoughts of the elder members^ at least, must 
have at this period run high with expectation of what 
God would do for them, seeing what he had done, as 
their minds went back to the days of Buncx)mbe Hill 
(as the place of their first worship was called) and 
Brampton's Barn*, the scene of their struggles with 
faith in those times of persecutions and trials. But 
now they have a comparatively comfortable house of 
worship, and an out-house for rest and refreshment; 
both small and extremely plain, but upon ground of 
their own, though held in trust by friends more favored 
in life. Their aged shepherd is also sheltered in his 
own cottage near the house of God and the gathering- 
place of the sheep of his fold. 

'Tis Christmas of the year of our Lord 1802, a 
season when all have liberty to visit the city from the 
plantations. Their leading brethren in the city, their 
watchmen from the plantation societies, are all together 
upon this to them holy ground. The fold has been 
divided in the interest of the cause of Christ. Their 
old shepherd seems in the zenith of ministerial glory. 
The noble among the whites respect and show honor to 
him. Few — very few, 'tis true— call him brother, as 
they agreed to address each other in associational meet- 
ings. All is aglow with peace and joy, and amid all 
this — wonderful change from their past dark day of 
trial — the two churches were organized, two new min- 



62 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

isters set apart to the work of the Lord^ new deacons 
and watchmen created^ brethren in humble stations 
promoted. " Truly the Lord reigns, let all the earth 
rejoice/' What a transition! "According to this 
time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, what hath 
God wrought ?" It may truly be said that in the dark 
days this church has seen and passed through since 
this period, the brightness of the hope wrought in the 
souls of these people in the closing days of 1802 and 
the opening of 1803 may have Ijeen dimmed, but has 
never died out to the present day. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 63 



CHAPTER IV. 

We have but little of the history of this church, after 
the events of the last chapter, except so far as, like the 
two other churches wholly of colored membership, hold- 
ing their positions in the Savannah Association, and 
their routine of Sunday worship three times a day, — 
that is, early morning prayer-meeting at sunrise, preach- 
ing at ten o^clock in the forenoon, and at three o'clock 
in the afternoon. Very seldom were night services 
held, unless some of the white ministers preached 
to them. Even then such meetings had to be early 
and of short duration, for by rule the drum of the 
city's patrol guard must beat at eight o'clock in winter 
and at nine in summer, and the said drum commenced 
half an hour earlier and beat at intervals of about 
ten minutes, the last roll ceasing at the striking of 
the hour. By this time every slave or person of color 
must be in-doors, and if found out fifteen minutes 
after drum-beat they were taken to the guard-house, 
and there kept- confined until the owner or employer 
was notified the next morning to call and release 
their servant, at a cost of one dollar for keeping 
him in custody, and if not willing to pay the fee, the 



64 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

servant was whipped and let out. There were ex- 
ceptions to this law in cases where the servant pre- 
sented to said guard a written permit from his 
owner, employer, or (if a free person) his guardian, 
to pass him until ten o'clock p.m. Some owners 
allowed their servants to hire their time, paying the 
wages earned to them each week or month, and ex- 
tended the terms of these passes accordingly ; that is, 
when the servant came and paid up the sum required 
he was given a new ticket, as the common expression 
was; but it was actually granting certain limited 
liberty, based on good behavior as a slave. 

But to return to the general permission of church 
service, they were from sunrise to sunset, for, be it 
remembered, the statute laws of the State and ordi- 
nances of the city forbade the slaves to assemble 
/together for any purpose (except funerals) to the 
number of seven without the presence of a white 
person, under penalty of fine or whipping with stripes, 
yet under these regulations the church could find 
pleasure and comfort. The larger number felt, and 
so expressed themselves as often as they met, that 
though in this world they had but little to hope for, 
they still possessed within righteousness, peace, and 
joy in the Holy Ghost. It was indeed a joy every 
three months to come to the table of their Lord and 
commemorate his dying love for them, his risen power 




IN NORTH AMERICA. 65 

to redeem and save them. So the even tenor of their 
permitted custom went on. The white ministers of 
Savannah, and the Carolina churches associated with 
them, were often and earnestly counselling to devise 
means for establishing educational facilities for their 
race and missionary work for the denomination, and 
constantly had the'prayers of our colored churches for 
their success, notwithstanding being well aware that 
ihey could not share in its benefits, neither themselves 
nor their posterity, and much was being done in that 
direction. None were more zealous and self-sacrificing 
in that work than their friend and brother, Rev. Dr. 
Holcombe, who often advised with and counselled his 
colored brethren in their special work. The number 
of churches composed of mixed membership and con- 
gregations with white pastors increased within their 
bounds, until, in the year 1810, the number of them 
uniting with the Association was seven in addition to 
the number organized at first;* conspicuous among this 
latter number was the Sunbury Church, constituted 
by Rev. Charles O. Screnen, of Liberty County, who 
associated in 1805, and in whose constituency tKe 
colored members were largely in the majority, all of 
whom had become converted by his preaching and were 



*The name of the Association was now changed to the Savan- 
nah River. 



66 THE FlttSf COLORED BAPTIST CHtJRCB 

baptizjed by him. Dr. Henry Holcombe states in this 
year, 1810 (without giving particular names), "That 
the colored Baptists in and near Savannah numbered 
1500, and at their quarterly communions, when they 
received new members, their numbers were augmented 
by 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and in one instance 64, at a 
time ; and it is but fair to presume, from connecting 
events, that the largest addition was made to this First 
Church." 

Their pastor. Rev. Andrew Bryan, having become 
feeble from age and with long and industrious service, 
often had to be assisted in his ministrations by the 
younger preachers. Evans Grate, who had been dis- 
missed, and became one of the deacons of the Second 
Church at its organization, proved to be a man after 
the requirements of the apostles for this office, and 
seems to have partaken much of the spirit of his first 
pastor. Andrew Cox Marshall, the son of Rev. 
Bryan's sister, had, some years before this time, 
been converted and joined the Second Church, and 
was baptized by Rev. Henry Cunningham. He was 
well advanced in years, of much worldly experience, 
of fine intellect, and a little learned in letters; and, 
like the Apostle Paul of old, he straightway after his 
conversion commenced to preach the gospel, so that 
Brethren Evans Grate and Andrew C. Marshall were 
duly licensed by their church to preach ; but the latter 



IN NORi^H AMERICA, Q^ 

was called soon after ordination as assistant to his 
aged and enfeebled but venerated uncle, of whom Dr. 
Holcombe, in writing of his friend, about the begin- 
ning of the century, said : " Andrew Bryan not only 
honorably obtained liberty but a handsome estate. 
His fleecy and well-set locks have been bleached by 
eighty winters ; and dressed like a bishop of London, 
he rides, moderately corpulent, in his chair, and, with 
manly features of a jetty hue, fills any person to whom 
he gracefully bows with pleasure and veneration, by 
displaying in smiles even rows of natural teeth white 
as ivory, and a pair of fine black eyes sparkling with 
intelligence, benevolence, and joy. In giving daily 
thanks to God for his mercies my aged friend seldom 
forgets to mention the favorable change that has of 
late yeai-s appeared through the lower parts of Georgia 
as well as South Carolina in the treatment of ser- 
vants." We cannot doubt that this high encomium 
is just and true ; that this pen-picture of him is faith- 
fully drawn by one who knew him well and whose 
high character precludes the thought of flattery. 

The assistance Mr. Bryan now had from his nephew, 
Andrew, much relieved his arduous labors of the Sab- 
bath in preaching and administering the ordinances. 
On those occasions the old bishop (as he was sometimes 
called) might be seen at the river seated in his chair 
(so the two- wheeled carriage* drawn by a horse and in 



68 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

which he now almost constantly rode was called). As 
the candidates were immersed by his assistant and rose 
again from their watery grave, his silver hair, smiling 
face, and hearty amen spread a halo around the scene. 
Himself gave them the charge relative to their future 
conduct in life; extending the hand of fellowship and 
welcome to the table of our Lord after baptism, in the 
presence of the ready-prepared communion-table, the 
members in their seats and the newly-born and bap- 
tized all standing. At such times the scene was 
solemn and impressive in the extreme, as the aged 
man's words dropped upon the ear and entered the 
heart and mind, subduing .the will. He was ever a 
strict disciplinarian. He watched for his people's souls, 
and, as far as he could, tried to ameliorate their con- 
dition, and this was a duty that he was not relieved 
from so long as he lived and was able to go upon his 
pastoral visits. These pastoral visits were twofold, — 
to the sick or those in distress of any kind, or to those 
unusually absent from the appointed Sabbath services, 
— and equally as often was he sent for by the mistress to 
correct an offending maid or by a master for a servant. 
Such, in the latter days of his ministry, was the respect 
for him that the best citizens found that his Christian 
discipline and fatherly advice had such effect upon 
their servants that the being threatened with a de- 
barring of their Christian privileges insured their 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 69 

faithfulness to the household duties better than the old 
harsher means. Thus, between the visits to the parlor 
of the mistress and the humbler quarters of the ser- 
vants, the minister of God had peculiar duties to per- 
form, and it had to be done with great prudence to be 
beneficial to all. Yet the system proved good in many 
ways when properly executed, and even after Mr. 
Bryan's day the same continued with beneficial effect 
to many households ; and, though this may appear an 
anomaly, it has saved many a member of the church 
from being sold away, from a whipping, or other severe 
punishment, and many wives and husbands from being 
separated by being sold from each other. These inci- 
dents are not reverted to with any vindictive purpose 
whatever, but simply that it may appear how fully the 
religion of our Lord Jesus, administered by his called 
and chosen servants, meets the requirements of every 
clime, caste, condition, or circumstance, be it ever so 
intricate or difficult. Faith, hope, and charity over- 
come for all. 

How like the sunshine driving away the clouds must 
it have appeared on so many of these occasions, to see 
his smiling, cheerful face come into the yard, bowing, 
with his hat in his hand, going up to hear the com- 
plaints against any of his members, and gracefully re- 
tiring, get in his chair and ride away after sometimes 

an hour's visit, and none, perhaps, but himself know- 

4* 



70 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

ing what he had said, — part to mistress, part to maid, 
— ^suited to the case in question ; but generally leav- 
ing reconciliation, peace, and confidence in the rec- 
titude of his actions. To estimate the consequences of 
these visits would take an infinite mind and almost 

•s, 

eternity to reveal, when we consider what may have 
been or was prevented from being done, and thus 
changing evil consequences for good. 

It is remarkable that both Grate and Marshall, who 
assisted Mr. Bryan in his later days, were njembers not 
of his church but of the Second, and there is no record 
that either of them ever changed their membership to 
this church ; though Mr. Grate had once been a mem- 
ber and dismissed upon the organization of the Second 
Colored Church. Mr. Marshall never was a member 
of this old church. As the old shepherd drew near 
to the close of his earthly labors, like Moses of old, 
he seemed to be desirous of leaving the flock over 
which the Lord had made him the overseer in the keep- 
ing of one chosen of God, as in the case of Moses and 
Joshua, and seemed to have fixed his mind upon Mr. 
Marshall ; doubtless, not because he was his nephew, 
but that he saw the promise of that ability which de- 
veloped so fully in after years ; and he frequently so 
expressed it to his church that he believed it was the 
will of God, and it certainly was his desire. As will 
be seen, the wish bore great weight after his demise. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 71 

Mr. Bryau^s decline was gradual. Gently the hand 
of his God led him down through the valley of the 
shadow of death^ and from his ninetieth year he was 
constantly looking for and speaking of his departure, 
which came not until he was, as he supposed, ninety- 
six. Yet he had made all the preparation a man of 
his years and circumstances could, and when the time 
came it found him ready, willing, and waiting. 

" Tranquil, amid alarms, 

It found him on the field ; 
A veteran slumbering on his arms, 
Beneath his red-cross shield. 

" The pains of death are past ; 
Labor and sorrow cease, 
And life's long warfare closed at last, 
His soul is found in peace." 

He fell asleep in Jesus October 6, a.d. 1812. 

To comprehend the death of this man of God prop- 
erly, and its effect and feeling upon a people whom he 
led in religious principles, is to consider the parallel in 
the history of Moses and the Israelites; and it is per- 
haps the first time in the history of the State that one 
of this despised race commanded the respect of a 
community and an acknowledgment that in the negro 
character, even under the conditions of slavery, there 
is true manhood and virtue developed by Christianity. 



72 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

The city and neighboring plantations turned out to 
honor this noble man, whose life was spent in inculcat- 
ing charity in the servant class, to the extent that the 
men with no other education save imitating their mas- 
ters and the maids their mistresses produced a class 
and society in the community that was remarkably 
interesting, to say the least. As servants, their integ- 
rity was a security to the master in his goods, and their 
warm and affectionate character infusing itself in the 
white children whom they nursed, produced a type 
of manhood and womanhood in both races that is not 
seen in this day. Truly, in planting this church, the 
seed of grace sown in this man's heart (Mr. Bryan's) 
was good, and the tree and the fruit good. " The 
tree is known by its fruit." 

In the plain, humble house of worship which he 
built for God, his body lay encased in a neat but plain 
black coffin constructed by the hands of his own race 
and members of his church, and like his Master, 
Jesus, "he made his grave with the wicked, and 
with the rich in his dfeath ; because he had done no 
violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.''* 

Rev. Henry Kollock, D.D., pastor of the Inde- 
pendent Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Mr. Johnson, 
of the Savannah Baptist Church, condescended to 

^' '' '  ■■■—■■-  ■-■ — — — — - - ■■-.■■■■■   > , —  — ^ y — ,  ,_ , .  _ . Ml,, 

* Isaiah, liii. 9. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 73 

enter his humble pulpit, and bore testimony to his 
worth, and made suitable addresses to his people. 
He was followed to his grave by over five thousand 
persons ; and at that spot, in the common cemetery for 
colored persons (located then where now stands a 
principal part of the city, and notably St. Joseph's 
Hospital), other addresses were delivered by Thomas 
Williams, Esq., a distinguished white citizen, and 
Rev. Henry Cunningham, who committed the sacred 
remains to their last resting-place, reciting the beau- 
tiful and impressive funeral service of the Episcopal 
Church, his weeping members and friends singing one 
of the songs of Zion appropriate to the occasion. And 
so ended the glorious life, death, and burial of Rev. 
Andrew Bryan, one who had " fought a good fight, 
finished his course, kept the faith, and received a 
crown of righteousness. '^ 

His demise being reported to the Association that 
year, "I find in their minutes," says Dr. Benedict, 
" the following article : 

" ' This Association is sensibly affected by the death 
of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and 
pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This 
son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions 
in the cause of his divine Master, was at length per- 
mitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among 
his colored friends in peace and quiet; hundreds of 



74 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCEt 

whom through his instrumentality were brought to the 
knowledge of the truth, as it is in Jesus. He closed 
his extensive, useful, and amazingly luminous course 
in the lovely exercise of faith and in the joyful hope 
of a happy immortality/"* 

In after years his grave was neatly bricted over, 
and a large tabulated marble stone was laid thereon, 
with this inscription, no doubt composed by his 
nephew, Andrew C. Marshall. 

" Sacred to the memory of Andrew Bryan, pastor of the First 
Colored Baptist Church in Savannah. God was pleased to lay his 
honor near his heart, and so impressed the worth and weight of 
souls upon his mind, that he was constrained to preach the 
gospel to a dying world, particularly to the sable sons of 
Africa. Though he labored under many disadvantages, yet, 
taught in the school of Christ, he was able to bring new and old 
out of the treasury, and he has done more good among the poor 
slaves than all the learned doctors in America. He was im-i 
prisoned for the gospel and without ceremony was severely 
whipped, but while under the lash he told his persecutors, he 
rejoiced not only to be whipped, but he was willing to suffer 
death for the cause of Christ. He continued to preach the gospel 
until Oct. 6th, 1812. He was supposed to be ninety-six years of 
age. ^is remains were interred with peculiar respect. An ad- 
dress was delivered by Kevs. Mr. Johnson, Dr. Kollock, Thomas 
Williams, and Henry Cunningham. He was an honor to human 

* " General History of the Baptist Denomination in America," 
etc., 1865, p. 739. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 75 

nature, an ornament to religion, and a friend to mankind. His 
memory is still precious in the mind of the living. 

*' Afflicted long he bore the rod, 
With calm submission to his maker, God. 
His mind was tranquil and serene, 
No terror in his looks was seen. 
A Saviour's smile dispelled the gloom 
And soothed his passage to the tomb. 

" I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, from 
henceforth blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: even so 
saith the spirit, for they rest from their labors. 

*' This stone is erected by the First Colored Church as a token 
of love for their most faithful pastor, a.d. 1821." 

Born a slave near Goose Creek, sixteen miles from 
Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. Bryan had purchased 
his own freedom, — for how much we do not know, — 
also that of his wife and an only daughter ; besides, 
the estate which he left was valued at about three 
thousand dollars. 



76 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTER V. 

The last chapter closes the history of the church as 
we find it up to 1812, under an administration by Mr. 
Bryan of twenty-four years, though he was actually 
preaching four years previous, making his labors in 
the gospel twenty-eight years. Rev. A. C. Marshall 
was supplying the church as assistant pastor, and was 
expected to fill the place of his honored uncle when- 
ever the church should call a. pastor. This did not 
take place, however; for over two years after Mr. 
Bryan's death. Mr. Marshall seems to have become 
disqualified'in some way. He was now a man of busi- 
ness in draying, and had the patronage of most of the 
first merchants of the city. It was a time when this 
country had just become engaged again in war with 
England, so it may have been a matter of his business 
that prevented his continuing his service to the church. 
However, we find Rev. Evans Grate supplying the 
church for over two years, yet never called as the pas- 
tor ; but some time in the latter part of the year 1814, 
or the beginning of 1815, the church did set apart a 
Sabbath-day in which to fast and pray that the Great 
Head of the Church would direct their choice of a 
successor to their deceased pastor, whose memory they 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 77 

still revered. There was no preaching on that day. 
Mr. Grate was present, and as a meek and humble 
Christian man, though not very learned or able as a 
minister, he had won the love and confidence of a 
large portion of the members of the church ; and so, 
for the first time in' her history, having to make choice 
between two candidates for her pulpit, there was very 
naturally an event of some moment among them that 
day. Rev. Mr. Marshall seems to have had confidence 
in the wiadom of the church, and that his call was in 
the hands of God and his brethren. He absented 
himself on the occasion and went to the Presbyterian 
Church. At twelve o^clock the church proceeded to 
the business of calling a pastor, and many strong ap- 
peals were made in behalf of the latter from the stand- 
point of the wish of their old shepherd, his uncle. 
Great fears were entertained by those of his friends 
who really desired Mr. Marshall as their pastor that 
Mr. Grate would defeat him; but when the vote was 
taken, though a large body rose in his favor, Mr. 
Marshall was found to have received a majority, and 
became their pastor.* 

It is commendable tor the spirit of all that there 



* Memoirs of two old members actively present on the occa- 
sion, Samuel Cop.e and Jack Bourke, corroborated by Sisters 
Grace Hague and Dianah Wallace. 



78 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

was no bad feeling engendered by the defeat of Mr. 
Grate, as he continued an assistant in this church, 
and performed evangelistic work many years after; 
and no division or dissension ever arose out of this 
or any later work of the ministry on his part. The 
church at this period was strong and prosperous. 
Many young men and women of natural ability and 
intelligence became connected with the church, and the 
number of her members largely increased. Yea, this 
seems to have been a time when the Lord favored his 
Zion, when the set time had come, though we can only 
draw these facts from the figures given at a subsequent 
period, having no statistics to guide us until 1818, 
when it became necessary for the Savannah River As- 
sociation to dissolve the union which was organized 
in 1802. The division was mutual, the- South Caro- 
lina churches withdrawing to form an organization of 
their own in that State, and the Georgia churches to 
^ meet at Sunbury, in Liberty County, on the 7th of 
November, 1818, to organize a new Association, which 
took the name of the village in which it was held 
and the church with whom they met, the Sunbury 
Baptist Church, Rev. Charles O. Screnen being the 
pastor. The churches at this organization were the 
First Colored, the Savannah (white). Second Colored, 
Great Ogeechee, and Sunbury, mixed membership. 
This church was represented by Deacons Adam 



tN NCTRTH AMERICA. 79 

Johnson and Josiah Lloyd, and reported her member- 
ship as 1712. The Second Colored Church reported 
538, and the Great Ogeechee 460. The First was 
represented by Rev. Henry Cunningham, Deacons 
Thomas Anderson and George Carter; the latter by 
Deacon John Cubbage. So we may clearly see that this 
church had continued increasing her numbers ; doubt- 
less the largest portion were from the river planta- 
tions near the city, but her popularity as the mother 
church — the Jerusalem of the colored race — kept her, 
of course, in the lead, as has been said; so that in 1810, 
when the three colored churches' membership combined 
was about 1500, this chui'ch comprised over half. So 
now it may be seen by comparing the figures above, — 
which continued for many years, — as the records of the 
Sunbury Association, which we have in full, will show. 
At the time of organization of this Association Mr. 
Marshall had been the pastor of this church about 
three years. He seems to have inherited the power 
and popularity of his uncle; was prosperous in his 
ministry of the gospel and in his temporal affairs; 
was dearly beloved by his own people, and was greatly 
respected by the whites, among whom he had many 
warm and influential friends, who aided him materially 
in his business as a drayman of their mercantile goods. 
Thus favored of God and man, is it not natural that 
he should become a shining mark for the adversary's 



* 



y 



.<> 



80 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

spirit to shoot at? Yet we will see that his "bow 
abode in strength^ though the archers have sorely 
grieved him^ and shot at him^ and hated him/'* Mr. 
Marshall ever showed great deference for the laws and 
institutions of the country, combined with a high 
measure of self-respect, and frequently held to his own 
opinions with decision and inflexibility. With no 
education, having barely by his own persistent efforts 
learned to read, but never being able to write, he be- 
came by practice a good reader, and procuring such 
books as he could, under the circumstances, became an 
earnest student, as we have often heard him tell. A 
lover of truth, he sought it with his soul. " Get wis- 
dom, get knowledge, but with all thy getting get un- 
derstanding," was his motto ; thus he essayed to dive 
deep into theology, and the Bible became his principal 
study, and Dr. Gill's Commentaries one of his main 
guides. It will be observed that- he did not represent 
the church at the organization of the Sunbury Asso- 
ciation and for several years after. This was about 
the time when he became somewhat unpopular with 
the white brethren of his own denomination, on ac- 
' count of what they termed his extreme views of 
theology, or the doctrines which he then preached, 
which bordered on Antinomianism, or, in the plainer 

* Genesis xlix. 23. 



2N NORTH AMERICA, gl 

sense of the term, against law,— a doctrine which held 
that the law is not a rule of life to believers under the 
gospel dispensation. The appellation is generally 
given to those who carry the doctrine of justification 
by faith without works to such extreme as to separate 
practical holiness from true believing, and injure, if 
not wholly destroy, every obligation to moral obedi- 
ence. This wai^not the purpose of Mr. Marshall, by 
any means ; but the construction his jealous opponents 
put upon his eflTorts to explain to his people the differ- 
ence between the law and the gospel of faith in the 
atoning merits of Christ, by which we obtain salva- 
tion. Of course, while among the white people he 
was unpopular on account of the doctrines he essayed 
to preach, — and which only the learned in the Script- 
ures could understand, — he became the more popular 
among his own race and people, because he was able 
to preach such doctrines, whether sound or not. They 
felt a just pride in his ability to compete with the 
whites, to the extent that they were jealous of his 
power in expounding the Scriptures, and so drew his 
church so near to him that they were willing to suffer 
all things with him rather than give him up. But 
this was not the only trial the tempter made him 
undergo. About the same period (from 1819 to 1821), 
while engaged in his secular avocations, and having 
accumulated a goodly portion of money (he was build- 



y 



g2 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



iDg himself a two-story brick house, — a rather lofty 
undertakiog for a man of color in that day), in an 
^ nngnarded moment he violated the law (anintention- 
ally, no doubt) by purchasing from slaves having no' 
tickets with permission to trade or sell; and though 
many white people had laid the foundation of great 
success in business before, as many others have done 
since, by contraband trade with the^lacks, the ad- 
vantage was taken of Mr. Marshall's inadvertency, 
it happening at the period of his temporary unpopu- 
larity, and he was prosecuted for buying some bricks 
said to have been stolen from Mr. McAIpin, and 
was sentenced to be publicly whipped in the market- 
place. But here also we may witness the power of 
God and the means of his grace to save, by using man 
against man, even as steel will foil steel. Mr. Richard 
Richardson, the partner in commercial business with 
Mr. Robert Bolton, to whom Mr. Marshall belonged 
about the time he was converted, had bought him that 
he might become free, and now further showed his 
true friendship and deep interest in him by coming 
forward at this time of trouble. He interceded in the 
courts, and put in his claim as master in behalf of a 
valuable servant whose interests he was determined 
to see should not suffer; and though he failed in an 
effort to release him by the payment of money, as he 
was fully able and willing to do, seeing it was the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 83 

determined purpose of the prosecutors to punish and 
disgrace this servant of God, Mr. Richardson, by his 
influence, enlisted the sympathy of several of the best 
citizens, who declared they would not allow him to be 
cruelly punished, and they went to the place of execu- 
tion of the sentence, and the constable was instructed 
that he should not scratch his skin or draw his blood. 
His old master stood at his side to see that these pre- 
cautions were faithfully and humanely carried out,* 
and thus the whipping was only a semblance. 

These severe trials of his own faith, and the at- 
tempt made by the devil and his agents to injure the 
church through his disgrace, wholly failed ; she stood 
firm in these evil days. The people said but little 
on so momentous an occasion, but drew nearer to- 
gether, it seems, and shielded him with prayer; and 
he soon came forth again brighter and stronger for 
having come through the fire, as his old uncle and 
revered predecessor had done before him, and to whose 
memory he and the church this very year erected the 
tablet and wrote the epitaph mentioned in- the last 
chapter. Doubtless this trial called his mind to the 
duty he and they owed to the memory of Mr. Bryan 
after nine years, — now that 

" He knew what sore temptations meant, 
For he had felt the same." 

*" Memoirs of A. Marshall," by J. P. Tustin, D.D. 



84 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

The diurch could not be held responsible for what 
the pastor did, and though he was crippled « in his 
ministry for awhile, they managed to go right on, 
Brother Evans Grate again coming to their aid and 
Rev. Henry Cunningham assisting them. She was 
not reported in the Association in 1819, but in the 
year 1820 was again represented by Deacons Adam 
Johnson and Adam Sheftall, and reported her mem- 
bership 1836, showing a gain in the two years of 124 
members, notwithstanding the trials through which she 
had passed. The Second Colored Church in this year 
reported a larger increase, her membership being 736, 
a gain of 198 ; Rev. Henry Cunningham and Deacons 
Thomas Anderson and John Devoux representing her. 
The Great Ogeechee was not represented, but the mem- 
bership was the same as at the last report, 460. 
In 1821, Rev. Evans Grate alone represented the 
church in the Association, and the membership had 
increased to 1916, a gain of 80 for the year, while the 
Second Church membership increased to 822, a gain of 
96, and the Ogeechee reported the membership at 497, 
a gain this year of 37. While there was a small 
increase in each of the three colored churches this 
year, there seems to have been a lethargy in their asso- 
ciational interest. Rev. Messrs. Grate and Cunning- 
ham represented the First and Second Churches alone, 
respectively, and the Ogeechee had no representative. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 85 

We have given but tFie names of the pastor and 
the brethren who represented the church at the 
associational meeting heretofore, yet there were many 
others of weight and intelligence fully equal to the 
task of filling the several offices of the church assigned 
to them, and were ever zealous for the cause of their 
jLord. Nothing but their condition of moral bondage 
prevented them from displaying their gifts and ac- 
complishing much good to his glory, and, so far as 
they were permitted, they did what they could. The 
church always had good choirs of singers, good com- 
mittees of deacons, assisting the pastor in looking after , 
the welfare and godly walk of the members, visiting 
them at proper times, and counselling them in love for 
their temporal and spiritual welfare, at such times as 
circumstances would safely permit, for these were indeed 
times when the injunction of our Saviour, "Behgld, 
I sent you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves : be 
ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves,"* 
applied with much force to them. Among the most 
intelligent men and women, and the earnest workers 
with influence among the people, who could drop a 
word of caution at times among their fellows, and 
prudently allay the suspicions of wrong in the minds 
of the whites here mentioned, in distinction from the 

* Mathew x. 16. 
5 



86 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

more general class of members, too numerous to be 
named, yet who did their full share cheerfully for 
the good and upbuilding of their Zion and the glory 
of Christ, we may name of those times Adam John- 
son, deacon; Adam Sheftall, deacon; Josiah Lloyd, 
deacon; Jack Simpson, deacon; Isaac Beard, Samp- 
son Walls, Wm. Campbell, Jack Bourk, Samuel Cope, 
Joseph Clay, Adam. Anderson, Benjamin Kenier, 
Jack Cohen, Benjamin Verderee, Benjamin King 
(deacon, and a native African), Emanuel Wand, Gold- 
smith Lloyd, Abram Wallace; and among the noble 
women, also, Bash Devoux (who attended the females 
at baptism), Grace Hague (who was baptized by Mr. 
Bryan, and lived in great preservation up to 1885), 
Sarah Nelson, Betty Williamson, Elizabeth Beard, 
Lesse McFarland, Rachel Marshall (wife of Deacon 
Johnson), Hetty Campbell, Sally Verderee, Sarah 
Span, Sarah Wallace, Lucretia Dolly, Diana Wallace, 
Martha Monger, and Sophia Simpson. 

These, with perhaps others, were persons whose cir- 
cumstances enabled them to do most for the building 
up of the cause of Christ, and whose Christian life 
and zeal brought them most conspicuously before their 
brethren and the world. Some among them had 
worked out their time, as was then expressed for those 
who had purchased their freedom, or had procured it 
bjr gift from their owners on account of blood relj^tioq- 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 87 

ship or faithful and important services rendered. 
Some were allowed to hire their time, because their 
owners were among the middle or poorer classes of 
whites, who invested their money in this species of 
property as an investment that paid the best interest 
upon the capital surer and sooner. Yet out of each 
and all of these conditions in which the members of 
the church were situated, they were doing something 
for God's glory, as the only glory they had in the 
world, the advancing of the light and liberty of the 
gospel among their race; and thus they very natu- 
rally vied with each other who should shine brightest 
in the aifairs of the church and as the light of the 
world. 

Among the officers of the church Adam Johnson 
early became a man of commanding influence. His 
fine stature, over six feet high, and otherwise propor- 
tionately well developed, facial features regular, a head 
poised upon square shoulders, high, broad forehead, de- 
noting intelligence and reverence, with always a grave 
demeanor, a dark-brown complexion, showing some 
slight mixture pf white blood, but in all a fine specimen 
of the negro men from the West India islands, he 
being born in the British West India island of New 
Providence. Like Mr. Marshall, and others among 
these brethren, he was only able to read, but was a man 
pf profound thought and judgment, who had much 



88 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

more concealed in the depths of his mind than was seen 
upon the surface by his actions; thus he ever stood 
more prominent in the church than any other out of the 
pulpit^ and while Jack Simpson^ Josiah Lloyd, Adam 
Sheftall, and others before named, held prominent 
places in the church, Mr. Johnson is thus particularly 
mentioned on account of the part he performed in this 
church's history for over forty years. Adam Anderson 
and Joseph Clay were perhaps better learned in 
letters than any others in the church at that time, for 
each was able to both read and write tolerably well, 
and what little record of the church's early doings 
found were made by them as clerks. The pride in 
their ability tp do this service, too, was shared by 
nearly the whole people, and clothed them with great 
dignity in their day and made them the objects of 
emulation. 

Among the females who prominently figured in the 
history of these days were : first, the three sisters bap- 
tized by Rev. Mr. Leyle with Father Andrew Bryan, 
— his wife Hannah, Kate Hogg, and Hagar Simpson. 
We have little history of the work done by these 
mothers in the church. No doubt they did what they 
could, judging from the progress made in that early 
day; but the most authentic history we have of the 
work of these latter named is that of old Mother Bash 
Devoux, who occupied the old first house of worship 



JN NORTH AMERICA. 89 

on "Buncombe Hill/^ where the candidates for baptism 
were prepared as long as she lived. She was a pattern 
of good works to 'many who have followed her example 
to the present day as spiritual mothers of the church. 
Of this group of thorough Baptist women, all of whom 
distinguished themselves in some way in the building 
up and perfecting of the work of the church, and most 
of whom lived to remarkable ages, but more especially 
of the number, was Mother Grace Hague, whose long 
life and preservation, mentally and physically, is worthy 
of notice. She gave many of the incidents of the 
early history of the church, corroborated by written 
history. When very young she was baptized by Mr. 
Bryan in his later days. She lived until the summer 
of 1885, mention of which was made in the minutes 
of the Zion Association, by resolution that year. Sarah 
Nelson, Diana Wallace, and Sarah Wallace, each in 
turn, became the successors of Mother Bash in oflSci- 
ating at the water during the baptism of females, and 
were therefore highly respected as pious mothers of the 
church by all, male and female members. 



90 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTER VI. 

The church was represented by Rev. Evans Grate 
and Adam Sheftall in 1822, but the membership was 
not given ; and in 1823 by Adam Sheftall and Jack 
Simpson, with a membership of eighteen hundred and 
eighty-eight. It was at this meeting of the Association 
^ that the designation of African Churches was given to 
these two bodies with exclusively colored pastors and 
membership. It seems that there were some additions 
of churches organized by white ministers with a mixed 
membership, as, for instance, the White BluflF and Aber- 
corn, organized by Rev. James Sweat and Rev. Henry 
Cook. But this title or designation was not given to 
either, though their membership was largely of colored 
persons, with very few whites. But upon the minutes 
these two Savannah churches were ever after styled the 
First African and the Second African, and although 
the Ogeechee Church, as first organized, was exclusively 
colored in membership and its pastor, it was now rep- 
resented in the Association by white brethren and 
served by white missionaries. This was, no doubt, 
for prudential reasons, as it was against the policy 
of the State Legislature for large bodies of slaves to 
assemble unless presided over by some white person as 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 91 

their religious teacher. In 1824 the First African was 
represented by A. Sheftall and A. Johnson, the mem- 
bership being 1912; and in 1825, for the first time, 
Rev. Andrew Marshall appeared, representing the 
church in the Association, with Deacons A. Sheftall, 
A. Johnson, and J. Simpson as colleagues, with a 
membership of 1886, showing .a decrease of 26; but 
in 1826 there were the same representatives, Marshall, 
Sheftall, Johnson, and Simpson, with a membership of 
2141, showing a gain of 255 for this year. It was 
in this year, also, that the first Sabbath-school for 
colored children was instituted in this city and at this 
church. Messrs. George W. Coe, John Lewis, James 
Barr, and others, teachers of the Independent Presby- 
terian Sabbath-school, under the superintendence of Mr. 
Lowel Mason, established a branch here for colored 
children. Mr. Coe was the superintendent of this 
branch until his death, when he was succeeded by Mr. 
William Bee. At first the school. was conducted under 
the class system, but afterwards the superintendent 
conducted all the exercises, and gave the instruction 
from the desk. The average attendance of the school 
was about two hundred. Mr. Coe's plan was to make 
the scholars bring to the school certificates of good be- 
havior from their owners during the week, and during 
the exercises he made all who had certificates of good 
behavior stand up and show themselves to the school ; 



92 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

afterwards he gave them tickets with a Scripture text ; 
then he made all those who were reported bad at home 
stand up and show themselves to the school^ to receive^ 
probably, a public reprimand. This mission school in 
the church continued successfully down to December 
27, 1835, since which time it has been kept up by the 
church.* In 1827, Marshall, Johnson, and Simpson 
were the representatives; membership, 2275; gain, 
134. In 1828 the delegation was A. Marshall, Jo- 
seph Clay, and Ross; membership, 2311, a gain 

of 36 ; and in 1829, with the same delegation, Marshall, 
Clay, and Boss; membership, 2357, a gain of 46. 
The colored delegates were increased in the Associa- 
tion this year by the addition of Rev. Evans Grate, 
representing the White Bluff, and Rev. B. Renier, 
the Abercorn, with Rev. Mr. Cunningham, Deacons 
Anderson and Devoux, of the Second African, making 
a respectable number of our race holding up the banner 
of the cross among the more favored white brethren, 
representing a colored constituency at this meeting of 
4264 members, which in detail was : First African, 
2357 ; Second African, 1040 ; Ogeechee, 300 ; White 
Bluff, 407 ; Abercorn, 160. In 1830 the delegation 
of this church was Marshall, Clay, and Simpson; 



* We are indebted to Mr. John Stoddard, of the Independent 
Presbyterian Church, for the copy of these records from the files 
of the church in this city. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 93 

membership, 2418, a gain of 61 for the year ; and in 
1831, Marshall, Johnson, Simpson, and S. Whitfield (a 
grandson of Father Andrew Bryan) ; the membership 
this year, 2795, a gain of 377. It will be seen that 
the church had experienced a great revival this year, 
and had the largest increase of any previous year; 
and there seems to have been an increase in all the 
colored churches of the city and county this year from 
their report by the Association ; but the great ingather- 
ing took place in this church. Yet this outpouring of 
the Spirit and increase was followed by the severest 
trial but one in her whole history. 

Dr. Alexander Campbell (then called the great new- 
light preacher) visited Savannah, and was permitted 
by the pastor. Rev. A. Marshall, to preach in the 
church his new doctrine. The orthodox Baptists of 
the city and vicinity, with the leading officers of this 
church and a large part of the members, disapproved 
of the pastor^s course, and became highly displeased 
with him. The pastor also, in some remarks from his 
pulpit, seemed to give the impression that he was 
favorably inclined towards Dr. Campbells doctrine. 
The eflFect was terrible. Disputes arose in thq church 
to such an extent that even in the meetings for 
public worship, as well as in those for business, the 
disorder was so great that the city officers were called 

in to disperse them, and some of the most turbulent 

6* 



94 THE FIJLST COLORED BAPTIST CHVRCB 

were canght and severely whipped on one Sunday 
evening by the dty marshal. The diarch became 
hopelessly divided, the sabject becoming the town's 
topic, and this glorions heritage of Christ, the hope 
and light of the n^ro race in oar city and all the 
neighboring plantations, became a reproach. 

Bev. A. Marshall withdrew from the building with 
one portion of the chnrch, the other remaining, under 
the leadership of Deacon Adam Johnson, the most able 
and inflaential of the deacons. The great power of 
his preaching and the general popalarify of Mr. Mar- 
shall drew a lai^e majority of the members after him, 
and for a long time the disputes waged between the 
majority and the minority parties without their seem- 
ing to know what was the issue. It was principally 
the Marshall and Johnson parties, the latter accusing 
the pastor of preaching false doctrine, and of being the 
common talk among the people as well as the respec- 
tive members. The church was not represented in the 
Association, and did not make any report for the year 
1832; but that body, being in session at Walthourville, 
Liberty County, considered the state of the church and 
appointed a committee of investigation, who made re- 
port on the 10th of November, 1832, as follows :* 

* Kxtract from the minutes of Sunbury Association, 1832, p. 6, 
paragraphs 24-27, kindly furnished by JRev. Lewis 0. Tebeau, 
now secretary New Sunbury Association. 



lir NOR!tH AmeAicA, 9S 

"The committee to whom was referred the consid- 
eration of the diflSculty existing in the First African 
Church, Savannah, make their report. 

" Your committee^ after a serious consideration of the 
painful and difficult task assigned them, would present 
to your body the following resolutions, as the result of 
their consideration : 

^'Resolved, That we approve highly of the recom- 
mendation of the council of ministers that was called, 
viz., That A. Marshall be silenced ; and we concur in 
the opinion that he be silenced indefinitely. 

^^Besolved, That the First African Church, as a mem- 
ber of this Association, on account of its corrupt state, 
be considered as dissolved ; and that measures be 
adopted to constitute a new church as a branch of the 
white Baptist church. 

.^^ Resolved, That we advise our colored brethren in 
the country, now members of the African churches in 
Savannah, to take letters of dismission, and either unite 
themselves with neighboring churches of our faith and 
order or be constituted into separate churches. 

" The committee recommend the public expression of 
this body, extending their entire approbation of the 
Christian deportment of the Second African Church. 

^'Resolved, That a copy of the above resolutions be 
transmitted to the mayor of the city of Savannah. 

" Signed, 

" Samuel S. Law, 

" Moderator, 
," Oliver Stevens, 

''Clerk 



96 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

" A true extract from the minutes of the Sunbury 
Association, convened at Walthourville, Georgia, No- 
vember 9, 10, and 11, 1832. 

"Lewis C. Tebeau, 
^^ Clerk of Sunbury Association^^ 

This may seem a very summary proceeding to some 
Baptists, considering that an Association has no eccle- 
siastical powers over Baptist churches; but it will 
appear less strange when we remember that under the 
then existing laws of the State of Georgia our white 
brethren were held somewhat responsible for our good 
conduct, and that they came and sat in the conferences or 
any other meetings when they thought it necessary, and 
the courts of jurisdiction would not give our colored 
ministers a license to preach or officiate in the ordi- 
nances of the Church unle&s they were endorsed by two 
or more white Baptist ministers. Thus virtually all 
the colored churches were wards. It is also true that 
most generally these actions were done kindly and 
with a desire on the part of some white brethren only 
to guard us for good under the circumstances ; yet, too, 
there were at times some severe exceptions. 

The church property being under a perpetual trus- 
teeship, the Association no doubt then looked to the 
continuation of an orthodox colored church upon this 
spot, in its recommendation to reorganize the same as 
a branch of the white Baptist church, and that it 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 97 

would be in harmony with the trust and yet be eon- 
trolled under some white minister appointed by them, 
and in interviews with the deacons such action was 
proposed. Yet there is no evidence that the resolution 
ever was effectual in the way contemplated by that 
body. 

While the church last reported two thousand seven 
hundred and ninety-five members, not more than about 
two-fifths were residents of the city, the other three- 
fifths being scattered upon th^ plantations along the Sa- 
vannah Giver, and had no voice in the disciplinary part 
of the church ; therefore not more than about eleven 
hundred were engaged in this dispute or division, and 
a majority of this number took sides according to their 
preference for the leading parties in the dispute and not 
upon any merits of the questions at issue. There was 
a very distinct and grave question involved, and that 
question was. Did Mr. Marshall say from his pulpit 
that he favored the peculiar doctrines of reform preached 
by Mr. Campbell to his people? Deacons Adam John- 
son, Jack Simpson, and a large body of the members, 
and some of the whites visiting on the occasion, held 
that he did, judging from the associational report; and 
we learn that a council had been called which decided 
that such was the fact, and resolved that Mr. Marshall 
be not allowed to preach, as they considered his views 
of Baptist doctrine as erroneous as Mr. CampbelFs. 



9g THE FIRST COLORED bAPflST CHUAC^ 

However^ while this adjadication was taking place, 
whether I^al or not^ the parties to the issae were not 
idle. The minority^ nnder Mr. Johnson's leadership, 
continued to meet in the old chnrch boilding, and held 
such services as were permitted by the city aathorities. 
The white Baptist church had this year (1832) com- 
pleted and moved into their new brick church edifice 
on Chippewa Square, and their wooden building on 
Franklin Square, in which they had worshipped since 
1800, was vacant. Mr. Marshall, through the interces- 
sion of some very influential white friends, purchased 
this building from the white church, which was much 
more commodious than the old house built by Rev. A. 
Bryan. This bold effort on his part gave him a great 
advantage over his opponents, and drew the people to 
him in means and numbers ; and they met with him 
and prayed, if they could do nothing «lse ; but he was 
careful to keep within the bounds of the law by having 
some friendly white person always present on the occa- 
sion of his meetings. 

In this division the strongest portion of the male 
members sided with the minority, and so did all of the 
ordained deacons, — namely, Johnson Sheftall, Simpson 
Wall, and Ross; and among the males of note, Wil- 
liam Campbell, Isaac Beard, Jack Cohen, Sampson 
Whitfield, Joseph Clay, Josiah Lloyd, Benjamin Ver- 
deree, Adam Anderson, William Monger, and others ; 



IN NORTH AMERICA. gft 

and with Mr. Marshall^ acting deacons Benjamin 
King, Patrick Williams, with Brethren Jack Burke, 
Emanuel Wand, Robert McNish, Bing Frazer, James 
Mills, Lwian Brown, and others. Of course, with 
few exceptions, the wives and children went with their 
husbands and fathers; but the generality of the females, 
who have ever been in the majority, went with Rev. 
Mr. Marshall. On both sides the feeling ran very 
high, and much of crimination and recrimination ex- 
isted for some time before it subsided. Several of 
the male members vacillated from one side to the 
other, as circumstances seemed to favor, and a few 
who could even left the country and went to Liberia, 
Africa; others took letters and joined the Second 
African Church, not desiring to have any part in the 
dispute. Such was the status of both sides at the 
beginning of the year 1833. 

It will be borne in mind that in 1832 the church 
was not represented in'the Sunbury Association, though 
it had been a member from the organisation of that 
body and at the time the resolutions relative to the 
church and pastor were adopted; but at the session 
of 1833 she sent as delegates to represent her Rev. 
Thomas Anderson, who had been called as the pastor 
this year, with Deacons A. Johnson and J. Simpson.' 
The membership, as then reported, was 398 ; of course, 
this representation could be but circumstantial, for in 



100 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

1831 her membership was 2795. Where had they 
gone? was certainly a question; and to account for 
them we must consider the fact that but about two- 
fifths of the church's membership resided in the city^ 
— which would be in round numbers about 700, — a 
majority of whom, as has been said, followed Rev. 
Mr. Marshall; and if the number here reported by 
the church (398) is near correct, the other 702 were 
with him, and there must have been about 1700 bap- 
tized members of the church upon the plantations who 
were now " scattered abroad, as sheep having no shep- 
herd."* 

When we consider the persecutions of the church in 
its earliest days, the history of which has come down 
to the members of this period from their parents, — 
some of those who had suffered with Mr. Bryan being 
yet alive, — it is easy to see that these people, unable 
to understand the true merits of the questions that dis- 
tracted and separated the church, «hould believe that Mr. 
Marshall was being persecuted, like his uncle had been, 
simply for the cause of Christ, and in order to prevent 
him from enlightening' them as poor, persecuted slaves. 
We do not wonder, then, that the majority were with 
him, right or wrong, in this difficulty : their condition 
and circumstances would justify them in this belief. 

* Matthew ix. 36. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. IQl 

On the other hand, Was their pastor wrong? Did 
he desire to do wrong, or lead them the wrong way, 
in his preaching to them ? He told them plainly of 
Jesus and his love; of his dying for their sins upon 
the cross ; of his rising from the dead for their justi- 
fication, if their faith believed this; and of his ascen- 
sion to glory, where he went to prepare them a home ; 
their mansion in heaven was sure if they lived a life 
of faith and practised good works. They could fully 
understand him in this, and it sufficed a large majority 
of them, the greater portion of whom he had baptized 
into the faith of the Church. Yet there was a think- 
ing, discriminating number of members in the church 
even then who were able to judge of sound doctrine, 
and whether or not their minister was "holding fast the 
faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be 
able by sound doctriije both to exhort and to convince 
the gainsayers," and they strongly differed with Mr. 
Marshall, though a minority ; and it was this body of 
the church's members who sent Rev. Thomas Ander- 
son, A. Johnson, and Jack Simpson to represent them 
in the fifteenth session of the Sunbury Baptist Asso- 
ciation. They were so received and enrolled as the 
Third African Church, according to the manner of the 
white brethren, entitling those churches wholly com- 
posed of colored officers and members. 

A question that arises just here is, Why did the As- 



102 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

sociatioD not receive these delegates as the representa- 
tives of the First African Church, and so enroll them 
as formerly ? The proposition here propounded is 
certainly necessary of solution to maintain the original 
status of the church, we think ; and does the fact that 
the Association changed the number or title of recog- 
nition of the church at this time alter its original 
identity? In logic, opposition in propositions implies 
a disagreement in respect of quality, and it does appear 
to be a matter that the Association should have con- 
sidered and decided upon as an advisory body under 
the Baptist polity ; but it seems that they did not, al- 
though the white brethren of Savannah held several 
meetings with the leaders of the division. Such breth- 
ren as Rev. H. O. Wyer, Deacons Holmes Tupper, 
Abram Harmon, W. W. Wash, H. H. Furman, and 
others, men eminent for their piety and sound judg- 
ment and orthodoxy in the Baptist faith, counselled 
with and examined into the unhappy difficulty ; and it 
was certainly their advice and direction that brought 
on the settlement in the form we have it upon their 
associational records, which we now quote :* 

(Par. 26.) "Application was made by the Third 
African Church to become a member of this Associa- 
tion. Granted by a unanimous vote. 

* Minutes of the Sunbury Association, 1833, p. 6, paragraphs 
25-29. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 103 

(Par. 26.) ^^Resolved, That this Association approves 
of the conduct of S. Whitfield, J. Clay, and others, 
who separated from the First African Church, and rec- 
ommends them to full fellowship with all the churches. 

(Par. 27.) ^'Resolvedy That this Association ex- 
presses its disapprobation of the conduct of such mem- 
ber or members as attempted to invalidate one or more 
of its resolutions. 

(Par. 28.) ^^Resolved, That it be considered re- 
spectful and safe for any church, differing as to the 
expediency or propriety of any resolutions of this 
Association, that they submit their views at the next 
annual meeting, and defer until such time operations 
on the subject. 

(Par. 29.) ^^Resolvedy That this Association, having 
undoubted testimony of Andrew Marshall holding the 
sentiments avowed by Alexander Campbell, now de- 
clares him and all his followers to have thrown them- 
selves out of the fellowship of the churches of this 
Association, and it recommends all of its faith and 
order to separate from them, according to the advice 
of the Savannah Baptist Church." 

It must also be borne in mind that at the previous 
session, when fellowship with the First African Church 
was declared dissolved by the Association, and they 
expressed by resolution their entire approbation of the 
Christian deportment of the Second African Church, 



104 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

they yet by another resolution recommended to that 
church the expediency of their connecting themselves 
as a branch of the white Baptist church in Savan- 
nah^ and that we adopt measures to constitute all the 
African churches branches of white Baptist churches. 
A foot-note says a committee was appointed to trans- 
mit this resolution to the State Legislature and Mayor 
of Savannah, with explanatory remarks. 

In the session of 1834 the only allusion made to 
this diflBculty is a paragraph of the digest of letters, 
saying, " The Third African Church seems engaged in 
its duties with diligence and Christian zeal;" but at the 
next session, 1835, we find on page 1, paragraph 16 : 
" Application was made by the First African Church 
in Savannah for membership ; but difficulties beyond 
the control of the Association being presented, with 
the consent of the representatives of said church, a 
committee was appointed, consisting of J. S. Law, A. 
Harmon, D. Harmon, T. Mell, W. W. Wash, and 
H. Furman, who should request the assistance of Rev. 
C. B. Jones, and who should act for the Association 
in the adjustment of the difficulties;" and at the 
session of 1835, on page 9, we find only a synop- 
sis of the report of the committee, as follows : " The 
committee appointed by the preceding Association to 
settle differences existing between the African churches 
in Savannah, report the following as the conditions 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 105 

upon which an amicable adjustment might be effected : 
That the First African Church act aside from her 
pastor, thereby dissolving her illegal and disorderly 
connection with him ; that she renounce the unscriptu- 
ral doctrines taught by Andrew Marshall; that she 
satisfy the Second African Church in relation to her 
excommunicated members; that she return to the 
Association in the faith and order of the churches 
which compose that body." 

In the minutes of 1836 (page 4, par. 12) we find, 
" The committee appointed at the last session of this 
Association for the adjustment of the difficulties in the 
First African Church in Savannah, being called upon, 
presented their report, which, being read, was accepted." 
Also (par. 13), "A committee from the First African 
Church presented a letter addressed to the Association 
by one of its trustees, and also a petition for restoration 
to the fellowship of this body, which, after being ex- 
amined by a committee, were returned with a recom- 
mendation that they should be read." (Par. 14.) 
"The letter and petition being read, on motion, a 
committee, consisting of Brethren J. S. Law, J. 
McDonald, and A. Harmon, was appointed, to report 
upon the petition." 

(Page 5, par. 20.) "The committee appointed to 
examine the letter from the First African Church 
thus reports: that they truly admire the spirit in 



lOe THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

which the petition of that dioich to your body was 
dictated, and would affectionately advise them to 
accede to the terms of reconciliation stated in the 
report of yoor late committee, as the only terms 
upon which reconciliation can be made in the present 
state of things. We wonld also recommend that the 
clerk furnish the del^ates of said church with a 
copy of this report/' 

At the session of 1837 (page 6, par. 13), "A letter 
was presented from the First African Church, re- 
questing to be readmitted a member, stating that the 
difficulties heretofore existing were removed/' The 
proceedings of the committee of the Savannah church 
(white), together with its report to the church, £08 
follows, were read : " Your committee, after a laborious 
service, are now able to report that they have reason 
to believe the long-existing difficulties between the 
several African churches are brought to a close; 
each has expressed itself satisfied, and all has been 
done by the First African Church in accordance 
with the resolutions and recommendations of the 
Association ; and Andrew Marshall, having made full 
renunciation of holding the peculiar sentiments of 
Alexander Campbell, with which he has been charged, 
there seems to be no difficulty in his holding full 
fellowship in the church to which he belongs. It 
was then resolved that the First African Church 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 



107 



be readiinttocUja member of this body/^ Thus we 

ic correspondence and actions 
of the Associafhs^n rehiring to the difficulty^ fully, as 
they appear in il& nvmt»tes, and must leave for 
another chapter its anal);sis> 



\ 



\ 



^ 



s 



\ 



V. 



^-J 




108 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTER VIL 

With the going out of Mr, Marshall and his fol- 
lowers from the Sunbury Association, the record of 
which we gave in the preceding chapter, and their re- 
turn to that body, is fully given also his going out from 
this church and the causes, notwithstanding the church 
have no special records to show of her own keeping; 
but there is only this difference in his leaving the 
church: he never did return to it; and it must be 
recollected also that while he had been its pastor for 
about sixteen years, he never was a member of the 
church ; his membership ever remained with the 
Second Colored Church, which he originally joined 
and where he was baptized. This church, therefore, 
could not discipline him. Seeing by these records of 
the Sunbury Association that the First African Church 
went away from and was declared by them " dissolved!^ 
on accomit of its corrupt state, and also that it is " re- 
admitted'' a member of the body about five years after 
under the same title, the question naturally presents 
itself. Is it still the church which, under God, Mr. 
Bryan planted in the year 1788, which is existing still, 
and which has never been rooted up, neither have the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 109 

gates of hell prevailed against it ? By carefully ana- 
lyzing the preceding chapter we gather the facts which 
must determine the question, and we will now en- 
deavor to set them in their order. 

Then, Ist. By the blessing of God, Rev. Andrew 
Bryan founded this the first negro Baptist church in 
the United States of North America, in the city of 
Savannah, of the State of Georgia, and after its jour- 
neying in a wilderness of tribulation, doubts, and 
fears, from Buncombe Hill to Brampton, and from 
there back to the city, they finally rested on Lot No. 7, 
Oglethorpe Ward, and erected a house for God. To 
secure it, he, by faith — no doubt looking for this day — 
in the promises of God, placed it in trust of those 
whom he believed would keep the property securely 
in possession of the worshippers of God of his race 
unfil God should deliver them from their moral 
and physical bondage. Having proved himself and 
followers sound in the faith of the Baptists, and as 
such associated with others of the State and country, 
he died, leaving the church in a comparatively peaceful 
and prosperous condition, with the hope of continuing 
so. 

2d. Mr. Marshall became his successor, finding the 

church still progressing, anj^ it continued so until he 

departed from its faith and was deposed. He had 

never represented the church in the Association, 

6 



110 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

though its pastor until the year 1825^ seven years 
after the organization of that body at Sunbury ; but 
Johnson, Simpson, Lloyd, Sbeftall, and others had, 
and the church had overcome all obstacles to her 
peaceful worship and ordinances by her good conduct, 
\ with no serious disturbance until Mr. Alexander 
/^Campbell's visit, in 1832. She had grown strong 
through the grace of peace. Then all these troubles 
of the last five years were but the fruit of the am- 
\bition of her pastor; and when the troubles came, it 
was Mr. Marshall and his followers who withdrew 
\ and went away from the old ground and buildings, 
- surrendering all in possession of the trustees to those 
who held to Mr. Bryan's faith and practice, and con- 
tended against him for the same, — and these were to a 
man those who had ever represented her in the Asso- 
ciation, and who in 1833 received the commenda- 
tion of their brethren in that body for having done 
right ; not, as they say, in " separating from the First 
African Church,'' but rather should have said in not 
going out from the faith with Mr. Marshall and his 
followers, when they left them. These being truly 
the church, because they had the faith and doctrine, 
were recommended to full fellowship with all the 
churches; but why give them a new number of re- 
cognition among the African churches, then? This 
oeems inconsistent, 



IN NORTH AMERICA. m 

3d. There is no evidence that there was a new or- 
ganization of the church when Rev. Thomas Ander- 
son^ Deacons Adam Johnson and Jack Simpson at- 
tended the session of the Association as representatives 
in 1833, the year after the schism. They went as a 
part of the same body of which they had ever been 
consistent members^ stating their position, and asking 
true Baptist recognition ; but they allowed their des- 
ignation to be made by the white brethren, who, of 
course, controlled all these details, and who, having 
already declared that strongest and most popular of 
all the Baptist churches in the Association corrupt and 
demoralized, and having by resolutions shown their 
purpose to revolutionize the African churches, changed 
the title of recognition of this church. It is plain 
that the stigma upon the First African Church and 
r the desire to control the religious privileges of colored 
preachers hereafter advised this apparent new organ- 
ization and new number, for it was still called African 
by them; but in fact it was the old First Colored 
Church who assisted in their organization as an Asso- 
ciation, and whose faith, principles, order, and city 
location had never changed for any time since it had 
been founded to the present day. 

4th. It is true that this church as an independent 
body, as every Baptist church properly is, might have 
demurred or protested or made demands for what 



112 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

they knew were their rights in the premises. Among 
our white brethren this could be done at that day ; but 
/with colored delegates it was very different. We pre- 
sented our letters of credence, petition, or statistics, 
and took a back or separate seat in the body. We 
had a vote, and at most times timidly used it, but 
never had a voice in the body unless answering some 
question asked. The church was in great trouble now, 
and wanted the union she ever held with her white 
brethren for that protection from the laws of the State 
whichnnenaced her religious liberties continually. Her 
independ ence jgas nothing without union, and our 
colored brethren, no matter what they knew of their 
rights as Baptists, would think it prudent for their 
people's benefit, whom they represented, not to oppose 
the will of these white brethren of power in the land. 
They desired to have another colored pastor, and unless 
recognized by the Association in some way, they could 
not get his recommendation to the courts signed or 
indorsed by these white ministers, as required by law, 
as here given. 

" WHEREAS, by an act of the Legislature, assented 
to by the Governor, on the 23d day of December, 1833, 
it is enacted, ^ That no person of color, whether free or 
slave, shall be allowed to preach to, exhort, or join 
in any religious exercise with any persons of color, 
either free or slave, there being more than seven per- 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 113 

sons of color present, without a written certificate being 
first obtained, from three ordained Ministers of the 
Gospel of their own order, in which certificate shall be 
set forth the good moral character of the applicant, his 
pious deportment, and his ability to teach the Gospel, 
having a due respect to the character of those persons 
to whom he is to be licensed to preach. The said 
Ministers to be members of the Conference, Presby- 
tery, Synod, or Association to which the Churches be- 
long in which the said colored preachers may be li- 
censed to preach ; and also the written permission of 
the Justices of the Inferior Court of the county : and 
in counties in which the county town is incorporated, 
in addition thereto, the permission of the Mayor or 
Chief Officer or Commissioners of such corporation. 
Such license not to be for a longer term than six 
months, and to be revocable at any time by the persons 
granting it.' — And whereas, the following certificate 
has been presented to us, in compliance with the stipu- 
lations of the foregoing recited clause of the fifth sec- 
tion of the act aforesaid, viz. : 

" We, the undersigned, ordained Ministers of the 
Gospel, being members of the Sunbury Baptist Associ- 
ation, for the year of our Lord eighteen hundred & 
fifty-five do hereby certify to the Justices of the In- 
ferior Court of Chatham county, and to the Mayor of 
the city of Savannah that Ulysses Houston is of good 
moral and pious deportment, and that he possesses the 
ability to teach the Gospel to the persons belonging to 
the third African Church in Savannah a constituent of 
the Sunbury Baptist Association, of which he is a 



114 fHE FIR^f COLORED bAPTIST CHVRCS 

member^ and therefore pray that he may be licensed 
accordingly. 
" Ulysses Houston 
" Licensed Preacher 

*^ A. Harmon 
'' F. R. Sweat 
"Thomas Rambout 



" GEORGIA, 

" COUNTY 



.} 



" Now be it known, That we, the Justices of the 
Inferior Court of county, do hereby li- 

cense the said to teach the Gospel to the 

people of color of the African Church, 

in for the term of six months from the 

date hereof, the Mayor of the first agree- 

ing thereto: this license to be revoked at any time, 
good and suflScient cause being shewn therefor. 
" Witness Our hands, at this 

day of 185 

" Wm. H. Cuyler J. I. C. C. C. 
" Ja'. E. Godfrey J. I. C. C. C. 
" Mont. Gumming J. I. C. C. C. 



} 



" COUNTY, 
"City op 

" LICENSE is hereby granted to in 

terms of the law of the 23d day qf December, 1833, 
to teach the Gospel to the people of color belonging to 
the African Church in for 

the space of six months, unless sooner revoked. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 115 

" In witness whereof, I have hereunto affixed my. 
hand, in the City of this 

" Ed WD. C. Anderson 

If some of these brethren of the Association felt 
more respect for the independent usages of Baptists 
than was accorded the colored brethren, the fear of 
the slave censorship and of being suspicioned of 
having a secret principle of abolitionism would keep 
them from expressing their true Baptist sentiment 
in their behalf. Thus the representative brethren 
of this church could but passively submit to what 
they were advised, and this was certainly the state of 
the case at that time, but which could not take place 
in this day, under any circumstances, among intelligent 
Baptist brethren ; but the circumstances then governed 
the case. The advice of a white council in any off 
our colored churches, or from the Association, was then 
equivalent to a command. -J 

5th. The resolutions as passed by the Association, 
and referred to in the last chapter, of minutes of 1833 
(page 6, pars. 27 and 28), and reiterated in 1834, give 
us the spirit and intent of a majority of the Associa- 
tion, at least, and but for the strong Baptist principle 
ever held , by this old church in all her previous his- 
tory, which must have strongly appealed to their sense 
of justice and charity, the hopes of all the colored 



116 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

churches were gone; but our brethren no doubt pri- 
vately appealed to such old and influential brethren as 
J. S. Law, H. O. Wyer, and a few others like them, 
with high Baptist principles and some charity, which 
saved them, and modified the tone of their resolution 
of 1834 (on page 5, par. 30). They say, " This As- 
sociation being an advisory body, and having no 
power to dictate to or bind any church or churches 
of which it is composed. Resolved, That it be respect- 
ful for any church differing as to the expediency or 
propriety of any resolution of this Association to 
submit their views in their annual letter or instruct 
their delegates with regard to the ground of their 
objections.'^ 

At the period when this change of purpose is seen 
this church was again in the Association, represented 
by Anderson, Johnson, and Simpson. The church had 
again 'procured a license for her pastor, Rev. Mr. An- 
derson, to preach for her, by her acquiescence in the 
advice given. These licenses had to be renewed each 
year as evidence of good behavior on the part of pa&* 
tor, preacher, and people, and so this favorable change 
affected all the colored churches who had negro pastors. 
It is to be noticed, too, that during the year of this 
modification, Rev. J. S. Law, the best friend the colored 
churches and pastors ever had in this Association, be- 
came pastor of the Savannah Baptist Church, and was 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 117 

thus often in counsel with our brethren, and, having 
an opportunity of observing the true state and needs 
of our churches, could do much to aid in the troubles 
and soften the feelings against their freedom. All are 
willing to bear testimony to his noble, loving heart and 
sympathetic feelings towards his colored brethren, 
as he often expressed it, and this feeling extended even 
to Mr. Marshall, though he was under interdiction for 
heterodoxy and schism. So that, in 1835, Mr. Mar- 
shall made bold to send a delegation with a letter to 
the Association, asking that they be recognized and re- 
ceived ; and though they were refused, they neverthe- 
less had a committee appointed, all of whom resided 
in Savannah, with Rev. J. S. Law as chairman, to 
endeavor to remove the diflBculties in their way. 

6th. The astute mind of Dr. Marshall was not idle. 
Among his friends were some of the most wealthy, wise, 
and influential citizens, some of whom were merchants 
who patronized him in business, he having bought 
the property for his people through their aid. He 
held it under a new trusteeship ; two of these trustees 
(Messrs. John P. Williamson and William H. Stiles) 
greatly aided and protected him at this time, and their 
influence and power in the community were excelled by 
none at that day. His religious independence, which 
he exhibited in bringing about these very troubles, 

gave him some popularity among other denomination^ 

6* 



118 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

in the city. He was not a man to remain passive 
under his interdiction^ and thus we see him at the 
Association in 1836^ not in person^ but by a letter 
from one of his trustees^ that commanded the admira- 
tion of the committee who reported upon the contents 
of that letter and the petition accompanying it, and 
which also drew from them affectionate advice (page 5, 
par. 20) ; and while the letter did not alter his con- 
dition at that session, it nevertheless had great influ- 
ence in bringing about a settlement later; and while 
this grand but mistaken old man and minister was 
struggling to extricate himself from the dilemma in 
which he had placed himself and people^ panting to use 
that great power he felt moving within his heart, and, 
like a caged eagle, beating itself against the bars of the 
cage that confined it, so he, looking from the bars 
of the interdiction which his own Baptist brethren had 
placed around him because he essayed to deviate from 
sound doctrine, and seeing other colored ministers of 
less ability and influence in possession of those min- 
isterial privileges he could not use, he then yielded to 
the inevitable, and sought reconciliation with this 
church and his late officers. 

The committee of the Association's appointment — 
namely, Messrs. J. S. Law, J. McDonald, and Abram 
Harmon, with Rev. F. R. Sweat, Deacons Adam 
Johnson, Jack Simpson, and Adam Sheftall, of this 



tN NOR^H AMERICA, II9 

church, Dr. Marshall, Benjamin King, Robert Mc- 
Nish, and Samuel Cope, from the second party — met 
in the Savannah Baptist Church. There were a few 
other brethren present, yet these were principals in the 
council. After the usual preliminaries, this church, 
through Deacon A^ Johnson, reiterated the charge 
against Mr. Marshall, of proclaiming from his pulpit 
the erroneous doctrines of Mr. Campbell, thereby cre- 
ating a schism in the church and all the attending evils 
arising in the church and among the people since; that 
Mr. Marshall had denied that he had so preached from 
the pulpit, and that from said denial a question of 
veracity existed, which, as the representatives of this 
church, he and his brethren thought should be settled ; 
that they had no malicious feeling against him, neither 
did they desire to hinder the good among his people 
that he was so capable of doing ; that they appeared 
there simply in the defence of truth, and all they 
asked, on their part, was that Mr. Marshall would 
make confession that they had not misrepresented or 
wronged him. The clear, profound, and dignified 
manner in which Mr. Johnson delivered his charge 
made a deep impression upon the whole council, and 
was spoken of by the fathers many years after this 

event. 

Mr. Marshall, being called upon by the council to 

answer, rose with grave submission and, with his native 



120 THE FIRST OOLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

eloquence, confessed. He said that what Brother Adam 
and the other brethren had said about this matter was 
true, only with this diflference, — that he did not say 
from his pulpit that he agreed with Mr. Alexander 
Campbell's doctrine, but that being favorably im- 
pressed from hearing him expound them, when he had 
examined the doctrines for himself, if he found them 
true according to Mr. Campbell's views of them, then 
he should join him; but upon a more thorough ex- 
amination of the Scriptures, he saw no reason to 
change his faith in the doctrines as now held by his 
Baptist brethren. With this confession Mr. Johnson 
rose and stated that himself and brethren present, to 
whom the church had intrusted the settlement of this 
long-pending diflSculty, were now satisfied, and had 
only desired the peace of the churches and the progress 
of the Lord's Zion, and that they might prove that the 
Church of God is the pillar and ground of truth. 
These two brethren, Marshall and Johnson, by far the 
ablest colored Baptists of their day, and then standing 
as the leaders at the head of separate parts of the First 
Colored Baptist Church, then approaclied each other 
and extended the hand of fellowship and peace ; and 
the matter, so far as this church was concerned, has so 
remained settled; and it was upon this basis that, at 
the session of 1837, the committee reported to the 
'Association, "That they have reason to believe the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 121 

long-existing difficulties between the several African 
churches are brought to a close. . • . Andrew Mar- 
shall having made full renunciation of holding the 
peculiar sentiments of Alexander Campbell with which 
he has been charged^ there seems to be no difficulty in 
, his holding full fellowship in the church to which he 
belongs.'^ 

It will not fail of notice, the peculiar wording of 
this report and its vagueness. Mr. Marshall and one 
of his deacons presented a letter asking to be re- 
admitted as members, and stating that the difficulties 
heretofore existing were removed. The committee of 
the Savannah white church said : "After laborious ser- 
vice we are now able to report;" but with all that their 
labor has removed there remain some important ques- 
tions in this difficulty not settled, and which ought to 
have been at the time, — abstruse questions, it must be 
admitted, but yet susceptible of a solution by earnest 
Christian brethren, zealous for truth and the glory of 
God. Which is the original body or church? The 
majority, who withdrew and set up in another place, 
upon new doctrines, or the minority, who remained and 
held the faith of the church? The divergence has 
been clearly shown from the testimony and reports ; 
yet they were left untouched so far as we know or from 
anything we have seen in the records of this difficulty 
and its settlement. It will not suffice here only to see 



n 



122 T^^ PlkST COLORED BAPTIS't CHURCff 

that a majority went away. In our Baptist polity the 
majority rules ; but if they would rule, they must stay. 
Can they run away and rule ? If in tlie right they 
can well afford to stay. Majorities are not always 
Gtxi^s power, or carry out the divine purpose. Ten 
out of the twelve tribes of Israel seceded, but the 
sceptre still remained with Judah until Shiloh came ; 
and unto him is the gathering of the people, and in 
the history of this church we shall perhaps see a 
parallel. 

7th. The right to the use of the property held in 
trust for this church since the third day of July, 1797, 
as shown in a preceding chapter, had some bearing 
upon this question of the original church. By right 
of succession under the original conveyance of Father 
Bryan, in 1824, Moses Cleland, Josiah Penfield, and 
Edward Coppee became co-trustees with the one sur- 
vivor of the original number, William Matthews, and 
so held the trust through all the period of these diffi- 
culties. They seem never to have been called in ques- 
tion during that time, except, it may be, by individuals 
in a private way ; but after the settlement, Mr. Mar- 
shall laid claim to the property as heir and successor of 
his uncle, Andrew Bryan, and employed able counsel ; 
but he failed to recover on his own account or that of 
his church. The trustees decided that the property 
was held for this church, as it had ever been in posses- 



z' 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 123 

sioD and was peaceably enjoying its use at the time; 
and it has so continued to the present day, as will 
appear in a new charter received from the State at a 
later period. From these several points of fact must 
the impartial judgment of our brethren of the present 
day, and posterity hereafter, decide for themselves the 
question, and when they have so done the verdict is 
of small import, save for the truth of history. 

Rev. Thomas Anderson served the church as pastor 
but two years, and in 1835 the church called Rev. 
Stephen McQueen, and was represented in the Associ- 
ation by himself and Brother Sampson Whitfield, who 
reported baptiized, 10 ; received by letter, 8 ; and the 
total membership, 224, a gain for the year of 28. In 

1836, Rev. S. McQueen, S. Whitfield, and John Har- 
ris ; baptized, 10 ; by letter, 16 ; membership, 183. In 

1837, Rev. S. McQueen; baptized, 6; membership, 189. 
In 1838 represented by Rev. S. McQueen, Deacons 
Lloyd and Sheftall ; membership, 223. In 1839, Rev. 
S. McQueen, July Ward ; membership, 240. In 1840, 
Rev. S. McQueen and A. Sheftall ; membership, 234. 

In 1841 the church was again without a regular 
pastor, but was represented in the Association by 
Deacons A. Johnson, Charles Newell, and July Ward. 
Rev. John Devoux, a former deacon of the Second 
African Church, was called to ordination by this 
church as its pastor, and in 1842 represented the 



124 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

church in the Association, with Deacons Samuel Boles, 
A. Sheftall, and Brother Benjamin Verderee ; member- 
ship, 212. In 1843 the delegation was John Cuthbert 
and Quives Frazer; membership, 252, a gain, this 
year, of 40. In 1844, Rev. J. Devoux, J. Cuthbert, 
and S. Boles ; membership, 272, a gain of 20 for the 
year. In 1845, Delegate J. Cuthbert; membership, 282, 
a gain of 10. Rev. J. Devoux resigned the pastorate, 
and the church called Rev. Isaac Roberts, also a mem- 
ber of the Second African Church, to the pastorate; 
and it is remarkable that this church, peacefully organ- 
ized in 1802 with members of this parent body and 
thoae who had received letters of dismission, has fur- 
nished her with pastors each time from the death of 
the old patriarch. Father Andrew Bryan. This year 
(1846) the delegates to the Association were Rev. I. 
Roberts, the fifth pastor called from the Second Church, 
and Deacons A. Johnson and July Ward; the mem- 
bership, 300, a gain of 18. In 1847, Rev. I. Roberts, 
A. Johnson, S. Boles; membership, 298, a loss of 2. 
In 1848, Roberts, Boles, and Frazer; membership, 
305, a gain of 7. 

Rev. Mr. Roberts was the most energetic of all the 
pastors since Rev. Mr. Marshall. In the second year 
of his pastorate he made a change in the house of wor- 
ship, by making an entrance on Bryan Street, and 
the building was put in thorough repair and painted, 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 125 



«» 



for, from its erection, in 1794, it had never received 
any paint until 1848. The pulpit was remodelled, 
the inside ceiled and painted, galleries were put in, 
and the Old Jerusalem, as the old church was then 
familiarly called, had put on her new dress, which 
revived her greatly. In addition to Mr. Roberts^s 
energetic spirit, he was a man of much intelligence 
and a bold and spirited preacher, and in all his duties 
of pastor was very acceptable to the people. Un- 
fortunately for this church, the pastor of the Second 
African Church, Rev. Thomas Anderson, who had also 
been pastor here, and had left to accept a call from 
that congregation, died this year, and the Second 
Church was without a pastor. Much to the regret of 
this mother-church, and against her earnest entreaties, 
Rev. Mr. Roberts resigned the pastorate and returned 
to the Second Church in the belief that that church 
would tender him the pastorate whenever she again 
made a call, and again this church was left with- 
out a pastor. Thus, in 1849, she was represented 
only by Deacon S. Boles ; her membership being 301, 
a loss of 4 for the year. The church now made a 
call for Rev. Brister Lawton, a brother from Beaufort 
District, South Carolina, who accepted the call, and 
preached for her only about a year. The delegates 
for 1850 were Rev. B. Lawton and S. Boles, and the 
membership 315, a gain of 14 for the year. The 



126 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Second African Church mfade a call for a pastor also 
this year, but chose Rev. John Cox, another of her 
sons, greatly disappointing Brother Isaac Boberts. He 
and Brother Cox were business partners. The effect 
upon him was such that he soon after left the country 
and emigrated to Liberia, Africa. Thus this church 
had to suffer for the second time from the ambitious 
pride of her pastors. Rev. B. Lawton was only called 
for a year, and the church did not renew the call 
at its expiration, and in 1851 the church, for the 
seventh time since the demise of Father Bryan, was 
without a pastor, but was represented in the Associa- 
tion that year by Deacons S. Boles and Q. Frazer; 
membership 205, a loss of 110. In November of this 
year they called to the deaconship Grant Simpson, 
Alexander Harris, Ulysses L. Houston, and Lewis 
Ross, four of her sons of zeal and ability, which gave 
much strength to the cause and aid to the old senior 
deacon, Johnson. 



Of ifORi'ii AMERICA. 12? 



CHAPTER VIII. 



/, 



The aged seoior deacon of this churchy whose watch- 
ful care over her interests was unceasing, was one of 
the strictest disciplinarians in any church in this city ; 
and under his guidance the moral tone of the church 
was truly commendable. Well informed in the rules 
of debate upon the questions which naturally arose in 
the church conferences^ — a qualification which but 
few of the pastors possessed, — ^he, as a general rule 
of the church, presided at all business meetings 
unless necessarily absent, and from the discession of 
Dr. Marshall he was in deed and in fact the ruling 
spirit of this church ; and it may be positively asserted 
that he watched over its welfare as a father over a 
loving household family; and equally so did the 
church revere and love him, though at times they 
murmured at the strictness of his discipline; but his 
love to Grod and humanity, with the ripe experience 
he possessed, guided them rightly, and he was instru- 
mental in the saving of many from the snares and 
difficulties in this life and into the haven of eternal 
rest above. 

In 1852 the church called to ordination Brother 



128 ^^^ PlRSf COLOkED MAPTiSi' CJ^URCB 

Garrison Frazer, a Baptist from the State of Virginia, 
a man of fair natural ability and good delivery, with a 
limited degree of education, lately brought to this city 
by his owner. He was ordained pastor in December, 
1851. There became attached to the church this year 
another brother, Andrew Neyle, a man of fine natural 
attainments, who, from the opportunities with which 
he had been blessed, in coming in contact with learned 
and generous masters, had acquired sonftie education, 
and was, like Mr. G. Frazer, of high-church prin- 
ciples. He came from the First African Church by 
letter, having been baptized by Rev. Mr. Marshall be- 
fore the division, and departed with him when he left. 
Both of these brethren were of pure African blood, 
and they added great strength to the church and its 
cause. Rev. G. Frazer became the pastor this year 
and Brother Neyle a deacon. Thus the delegation to 
the Association was Rev. G. Frazer, Deacons A. John- 
son,* A. Harris, and Quives Frazer; membership, 208. 

— ^^^^"^^M^^— ^  —   .  ^^ ■-. -I ■■■--.   - - -      .  ■- 11   I Ml I I M  ^ I I  m<< 

* The church was now called to mourn the loss of her aged and 

faithful deacon, Adam A. Johnson, the ceaseless watchman over 

her interests for about forty years, who now was called to yield 

up his trust and lay down his cross. He died March 19, 1853. 

The following testimonial, by one of the members of this church 

who knew him well, expresses the feelings of the church and 

community towards him : 

" Obituary. — Died, on the 19th of March, 1853, Adam Ar- 
(iuiLE Johnson, aged seventy-seven years. Thus, after long 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 129 

In 1853, G. Frazer, Q. Frazer, and A. Neyle; mem- 
bership, 205. In 1854, G. Frazer and Deacon Alex- 
ander Harris; membership, 213. In 1855, G. Frazer, 
S. Boles, and A. Harris; membership, 203. In 1856, 
Deacons A» Harris and S. Boles ; membership, 223, a 
gain, this year, of 20. In 1857, Eev. G. Frazer, A. 
Harris, add A. Neyle; membership, 241. In 1858 
the church was not represented in any way in the As- 
sociation. In 1869 by Rev. G. Frazer; membership, 
197, a loss, this year, of 44. It may be here observed 



suffering, it hath pleased the Giver of all good to take unto 
himself one of the loveliest of his creatures. His mission on 
earth seems to have been to afford an assurance to men that even 
amid the sinfulness of this world native goodness might bloom 
and ripen into stainless and exalted virtue. Meekness and hu- 
mility walked with him, and he took no thought of self; he 
envied not another's lot, nor triumphed in his own. As an elder 
he was blameless, loving; as a husband, devoted ; as a brother, 
affectionate and ever kind ; as a friend, sincere and unchanging ; 
as a Christijin, true and faithful ; as a man, noble and lovely, 
shining with a gentle and perpetual radiance, dispensing kindness 
unto all around him, and teaching by the loftiness of example. 
He is not dead,— God hath recalled him to his native heaven. 
His voice will be heard no more on earth, for it mingles with the 
sacred choir which sing around the throne, — his form will no 
more be seen among us, for it shines an angel amid angel bands. 
And yet he is not dead, — in every heart that knew him is a shrine 
to his memory, a place where he will live forever. Weep not 
for him 1 he is an angel now, and treads the floors of Paradise I 
All darkness wiped from his brow, and sorrow and suffering 
banished from his eyes, victorious over death, to him appears 
the joys of heaven's eternal years I Weep not for him I 

<* Aug. Benjamiut." 



7 



130 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

that these figures do not in all cases show the actual 
increase of the church, as many of the members at 
times were taken away from the city and the country 
and sold by their owners, and could not be accounted 
for to the Association in its assessment upon the 
churches for missionary funds to pay the white breth- 
ren who preached to the slaves at times. Each of the 
colored and white churches were taxed according to 
their membership as reported to the Association at 
each yearly meeting. Thus our colored churches often 
only reported those members residing in the city, and 
from whom it was possible to collect this tax. 

In 1860 the delegates were S. Boles and A. Neyle ; 
membership 199. In 1861 there was no meeting of 
the Sunbury Association ; but in May of that year 
the Southern Baptist Convention (white) met in 
Savannah with the Baptist church. There was great 
excitement throughout the country on account of the 
breaking out of the civil war between the States. 
It was a time for great caution in our churches. 
" Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves" came 
home with much force to every negro Christianas 
heart, and especially those who stood in the awfully 
responsible position of oflBcers of the colored churches. 
The pastor, Mr. G. Frazer, gave notice of a desire 
to resign his charge. Deacon U. L. Houston had 
been licensed to preach in 1855. He was in every 



i L. HOUSTON, 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 131 

sense a son of the church. Born in 1825^ in South 
Carolina, he came to the city when a child, the slave 
of Mr. James B. Hogg, a thorough Baptist, and a 
deacon of the Savannah Baptist Church until his old 
age. He had raised Ulysses in his home with much 
care and piety ; thus he became converted in 1841, and 
joined this church at the age of sixteen ; so, like Samuel 
of old, he grew in the house of the Lord. He became 
early a member of the singing choir, in 1851 a deacon, 
and, as has been said, was licensed in 1855, often aiding 
the pastor in the meetings of the church and country 
societies ; and now, as he was about to relinquish his 
charge, he advised the church to ordain for her service 
this young son of her own spiritual raising. Having 
resolved to carry out this advice, and the time seeming 
auspicious, the Southern Baptist Convention being in 
session here, and no ordination of negro preachers being 
possible without the presence and sanction of the 
white brethren, the church, through the pastor, made 
application to the executive board of the Sunbury As- 
sociation, who came to the church and examined him 
and took the opportunity of the presence of the con- 
vention to have him ordained by that body. Rev. S. 
Landrum, the chairman of the board, so invited the 
convention, and in the midst of the excitements of 
that ever-memorable month and year, a Presbytery of 
the white members of that convention repaired to the 



132 'J'SE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

church on the 12th of May, 1861, and set apart to the 
gospel ministry, by the laying on of hands, Ulysses L. 
Houston. Six months after, on the 20th of October, 
the church called him to the pastoral care, and he be- 
came the ninth from Rev. Andrew Bryan, and, like 
the old founder, he was born in Carolina, raised in 
Georgia, a slave of a kind master, with like privileges ; 
and he is the only one ever pastor that was a son of 
that church since the first, and has proven a veritable 
prototype. 

In 1862 the delegation to the Association was Rev. 
U. L. Houston and Deacon A. Harris ; membership, 
106. We were now in the midst of a terrible strife 
throughout the country, and the South being the prin- 
cipal battle-ground, the danger to the church was very' 
great and her sorrows also. Many of her members 
' were run off up the country by their owners, fearing 
to lose them, causing sad separations and the breaking 
, up of family ties. Again, some of the male members 
.' absconded rather than be carried away, some of whom, 
I later, went into the lines of the Northern army for free- 
/ dom. All of these incidents had a fearful effect upon 
the church ; yet she was kept by the power of God, 
through faith unto her salvation, in the even tenor of 
her way, and at no period during the war was her wor- 
ship interfered with or her officers held to account for 
the private acts of her members. Their service to the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 133 

church and its members as individuals being strictly 
religious, gave no cause for oflFence to the owners. 
Whatever were the thoughts upon the questions and 
results of the war, there was no allusion to them in 
the services of the sanctuary. Yet a careful private 
council was held frequently among the official brethren 
relative to the course to be pursued in extremely criti- 
cal periods; but the secret thoughts belong to God, 
and from the beginning of the war to its close there 
was an abiding hope in every breast that God would 
in the end grant us freedom. By the grace of God pru- 
dence never forsook nor did patience fail in the church. 
It was in this year that the first ray of freedom^s 
dawning broke upon our hearts in the proclamation 
issued by President Lincoln on September 22, 1862. 
It reached our city very soon after being issued. At 
first it was only whispered around by the white citi- 
zens, but it was soon openly spoken of to the sei:yants, 
accompanied with the assurance that this emancipa- 
tion proclamation , could never be enforced. Who, 
then, could estimate or describe with tongue or pen 
the struggle in their hearts between Jiope and fear f 
Who can measure the prayer ofiered in secret at this 
period and know its efiects ? Neither men nor angels 
could, we think, be equal to the task. Only the 
divine mind of Jehovah knows. The one hundred 

days passed and the old year also passed into the 

7 



7 



134 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

annals of time, and, as had ever been the custom of 
the church for some years, by permission from the 
mayor of the city, they assembled in their hoase of 
worship and held a watch-meeting, singing and pray- 
ing until the new year came in ; then greeted each 
other with a happy new year, and then separated. Oh, 
there was a secret meaning in this greeting on the first 
of January, 1863, that could not then be expressed, 
and should never be forgotten ! But with all this out- 
ward turmoil and the inward panting for the long- 
looked-for and often-prayed-for freedom now promised 
by that decree, a perfect equanimity was maintained. 
All moved along as empty pitchers,* but the glowing 
lamp of prayer was burning brightly in their hearts. 
It was not yet time for these gospel trumpeters to 
blow " the year of Jubilee had come," though the 
church and her choir were wont to sing of it on many 
communion days in the past. She now refrained at 
this peculiar day. The tongue must be dumb upon 
that theme ; it was the soul that sung. The music 
was not for earth^s ears, but it was heard in heaven ; 
and who can say that Fathers George Leyle and An- 
drew Bryan, Mothers Hannah Bryan, Kate Hogg, and 
Hagar Simpson, and the hosts who with them and by 
their labors and prayers came through the great tribu- 

* Judges vii. 16, 17, 18. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 136 

lations of the moral bondage^ did not up there repeat 
the song in joyous strains before the Lamb above on 
that New Tear morning of 1863? 

This year the delegation to the Association was U. 
L. Houston, pastor, and A. Harris; membership re- 
ported, 225; and in 1864, Rev. U. L. Houston and 
Deacon Andrew Neyle ; membership, 261. y 

The meetings of the Association have ever convened 
in the month of November ; and this session is notable 
in two or three particulars. The first is that whereas 
there were thirteen of the churches known as colored, 
but three (the First African, Second African, and this: 
church) met with the body that year.* The absentees; 
were the Ogeechee, Abercorn, White Bluff, Oakland, 
White Oak, Bethlehem, St. Catharine's, Skidaway, 
St. Marys, and Clifton. It is true that though these 
were negro churches, six of them had white pastors 
and all but two were country churches. Again, their 
absence was caused, no doubt, by the demoralized 
state of things here at that time. The meeting was 
held with Salem church, about twelve miles west 
of Savannah, on the Louisville road. The Federal 
army, in command of General W. T. Sherman, was 
marching through Georgia and approaching in the 

* We mention these churches incidentally as evidence of the 
increase of churches of our race in the lower part of the country 
up to this time, as it closes the control of our white brethren. 



136 "^SE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

direction of this city. There was a vigilant patrol- 
guard in the vicinity of the church at night, and the 
house in which the colored brethren lodged was entered 
after dark, and tickets from their owners demanded, 
permitting them to be absent from home. Some of 
the men of this patrol-guard were in the session of 
the Association during that day. The colored brethren 
went to the meeting of the Association carrying only 
their letters of credential, which they had handed to 
the clerk of the body, Rev. D. J. Daniel ; they had 
nothing to show but their railroad tickets. Without 
saying what was their intention, the squad rode away 
from their lodging-place and returned no more that 
night. The brethren could sleep no more then; but 
in the morning they reported it to the Moderator of the 
Association then convened; and it is due to justice 
and truth to record that some of the white brethren, 
more especially the Moderator, Rev. Silvanus Landrum, 
on receiving the report, were indignant. A committee 
was appointed for the protection of the colored 
brethren, but they took no further risks ; they nearly 
all left and returned to the city that day. This was 
the last session of the old Sunbury Association. In 
about thirty days thereafter the Federal army of occu- 
pation entered Savannah, and then they realized what 
our fathers desired, prayed, and looked for in faith, — 
^^ And these all, having obtained a good report through 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 137 

faith, received not the promise, God having provided 
some better thing for us that they without us should 
not be made perfect/' When the morning light of 
/ the 22d- of December, 1864, broke in upon us, the 
streets of our city were thronged in every part with 
the victorious army of liberty; every tramp, look, 
command, and military movement told us that they 
had come for our deliverance, and were able to secure 
it to us, and the cry went around the city from house 
to house among our race of people, " Glory be to God, 
we are free !" 

I" Shout the glad tidings o'er Egypt's dark sea, 
Jehovah has triumphed, his people are free I" 

This old Zion of God resounded with praises and 
thanksgiving to God for his great deliverance of his 
people ; but while doing this our people were mindful 
of charity ; and, save maintaining and enjoying their 
freedom in a proper, modest manner, they acted with 
courtesy and decorum towards their owners and em- 
ployers, as formerly, many remaining for long periods 
with them without remuneration. If any disagree- 
ments arose, it was not on the part of the members of 
the*church; and if there were any exceptions they 
were remarkably few, as many yet living well know. 

Two days after the army entered the city, the 
colored ministers and some of the other officers of 



138 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

their churches called upon Major-General Sherman^ 
the commander, to pay their respects, and offer humble 
thanks for their deliverance from bondage. They 
were received very cordially, and were each personally 
introduced by name and position in their church : 
among whom were the pastor and the deacons of this 
church. It so happened that the Secretary of War 
under President Lincoln, Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, was 
present at this interview, and also received an intro- 
duction. Both himself and the general gave many 
kindly expressions relative to the changed condition of 
themselves and people, with assurances of protection 
and provision until settled ; but enjoining industry 
and sobriety. The brethren with thanks sent their 
message of gratitude to Mr. Lincoln by the Secretary, 
and modestly retired. This interview took place at 
the residence of Mr. Charles Green, Madison Square, 
then the headquarters of General Sherman, on the 23d 
of December, 1864. Rev. Garrison Frazer, ex-pastor 
of this church, introduced the brethren. The war- 
cloud seemed to be passing away, and some of the 
scattered and wandering members found their way 
back to the fold. Many Baptists who had left their 
homes in the upper part of the State, and had followed 
in the wake of the army marching through from 
Atlanta to this city, now located themselves here in 
Savannah, seeking a place where they might find rest. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 139 

They were welcomed and taken under watchful care of 
the church, until they became settled in the fold of 
Christ; and by these wandering Christian pilgrims 
the ntimbers in the congregation were considerably 
augmented. All who could properly account for them- 
selves were welcomed to share in the privileges and 
blessings of this old Zion of God until they could 
return to the church of their membership, some of 
whom were well-known in the former days of peace. 
These duties and the continuous service of our Lord 
in his house every evening but Saturday, and four 
meetings on the Sabbath, the praises of the God who 
had with a strong hand and outstretched arm delivered 
his people, was heard for months while the Union 
soldiers occupied the city and its suburbs, guarding the 
peace and liberty of all who prayed for the peace, 
unity, and prosperty of these United States ; and this 
did the churches with fervent zeal. But their joy and 
thanksgiving met a sudden and serious check: the 
skies of hope, that seemed so clear and beautiful to 
faith's vision, were overshadowed, as it were, in a 
moment by the terrible announcement that President 
Lincoln had been assassinated on the evening of the 14th 
of April. The gloom was for a moment paralyzing. 
What did it mean? was the question. Like Luther in 
the Reformation, the leading brethren soon recovered 
their faith in God, and felt that what he commands 



140 TEE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

is certainly wisest and best, and that what he permits 
he is able to overrule for the greatest good to those 
who love and trust him. So, in the midst of this 
gloom and sorrow for the death of this great and 
wonderfully-gifted man, whom God in his providence 
had raised up to be the great emancipator of our race 
in North America, they did seem to feel and believe 
that, notwithstanding his death, " God is our refuge and 
strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore will 
we not fear, though the earth be removed and though 
mountains be carried in the midst of the sea/^ God 
is in the midst, and we shall not be moved. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 141 



CHAPTER IX. 

By a call of some of the ordained ministers of our 
denomination^ among whom was the pastor of this 
church, a convention met at Mitchell ville, upon the 
island of Hilton Head, in South Carolina, on Friday, 
July 14, 1865. This church sent to that convention 
as delegates her pastor, Rev. U. L. Houston, Deacon 
A. Harris, and Brother S. Whitfield. Upon the 
assembling of that body, composed wholly of colofed 
members, Rev. Mr. Houston was chosen chairman, 
and presided over the deliberations of the body until 
an Association was organized. The representation in 
that body consisted of four churches from Savannah, 
who were members of the Sunbury Association, and 
three churches of Beaufort District, South Carolina, 
constituted during the war. Rev. John Cox, pastor of 
the Second African Baptist Church, Savannah, and 
the oldest ordained minister in the body, was elected 
Moderator of the Association upon its organization ; 
Brother K. S. Thomas was chosen clerk, and subse- 
quently the pastor of this church, treasurer. He also 
preached the opening sermon before the Assocfation 

from the text, " My presence ahoM go vxUh thee,' and ItviU 

7* 



142 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

give thee resty" Exodus xxxiii. 14. Thus this oldest 
church was recognized at the organization of the First 
Negro Baptist Association in the two States of Georgia 
and South Carolina by having the honor of first 
presiding, first preaching the word, and first holding 
the financial trust; and these tenors were conferred 
by the colored brethren present, who were capable of 
knowing her true position, having been associated with 
her in the old organization of mixed Baptist churches 
for many years. The first honor was given this church, 
and the second honor to the Second, which was organ- 
ized out of this in 1802, by Rev. Mr. Bryan and 
others. Moreover, in the appointment of a committee 
to draft the constitution and by-laws for the Zion Bap- ^ 
tist Association, the committee stood: A. Harris, A. 
Bourke, W. J. Campbell, A. Mercherson, and J. 
Jones, — this church having the chairmanship. 

To extend her usefulness in the kingdom of Christ 
and to give to the missionary cause her aid, she sent 
her pastor to meet the Consolidated Missionary Baptist 
Convention of the United States, which met at Alex- 
andria, Virginia, in August, 1865, and offered herself 
for membership in that body, and was one of the first 
representatives from the Southern States in that con- 
vention. 

After the return of the delegates from the organiza- 
tion of the Zion Association the church decided that 



J 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 143 

this was the proper time to designate this the oldest 
organization of a colored Baptist church, seeing that 
the God-given rights of discipleship in Christ and the 
power to act and control her own affairs was no longer 
restrained as formerly ; resolved, as a fitting name and 
designation, she should be henceforward known as the 
First Bryan Baptist Church; and authorized her 
officers to take the necessary steps .to procure for her 
chartered rights to hold and control the property in 
her now designated title, — which was subsequently 
done, and at the next session of the Association re- 
ported a title of her own choosing, a privilege never 
yet freely used. Constituted originally a Baptist body, 
her particular designation had ever been circumstan- 
tial and of the choosing of others: thus colored, 
from the shade of the physical complexion of her 
members ; African, as to the country from which her 
early ancestors had come; the number as enrolled 
among the churches by the white brethren controlling 
the Association, Old Jerusalem, as an endearing appel- 
lation akin to the heavenly promise ; but now choosing 
this name designed to perpetuate the name of her 
founder, and put herself back in her true position. 

The Zion Baptist Association met with the First 
African Baptist Church at Savannah, July 13, 1866, 
the delegation from this church being U. L. Houston 
and A. Harris. The first statistical report since 1864 



144 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

to the Sunbury was given then. Her membership was 
261. She reported at this latter session : baptized this 
year, 90 ; received by letter, 80 ; restored, 18 ; ex- 
pelled, 10; died, 10; showing an increase of 118 and 
a loss of 20, — a neat gain of 98; and a membership 
of 462, and increase in membership of 201 since 1864. 
The next session of the Association met in Florida in 
July, 1867. The church, which was represented by 
letter, reported : baptized for the year, 51 ; and member- 

m 

ship, 513. The church had in 1866 ordained to the 
work of the gospel ministry, as an evangelist and mis- 
sionary, Brother Andrew Neyle, whose labors have 
been wonderfully blessed. He entered the work upon 
the mission of the Association this session, and con- 
tinued several years in their service. The church also 
in this year obtained her charter. 

"K. D. ARNOLD et al., TRUSTEES, TO TRUSTEES OF 
FIRST BRYAN BAPTIST CHURCH. 



"State of Georgia, 
"Chatham County. 



} 



" This Indenture, made this seventeenth day of 
April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty-seven, Between Richard D. Arnold, 
Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis C. Tebeau, all of said 
County and State, of the first part, and Alexander 
Harris, Lewis Ross, I. W. Toer, Quibus Fraser, and 
Daniel Butler, also of said County and State, Trustees 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 145 

as hereinafter mentioned^ of the second part, Whereas, 
by a certain deed of Indenture entered into and exe- 
cuted on the third day of July in the year of our Lord 
one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven between 
Andrew Bryan, a free black man and a preacher of the 
Gospel by lawful authority ordained, of the one part, 
and Thomas Polhill, William Mathews, David Fox, 
and Josiah Fox, of the said State of Georgia, of the 
other part, it was witnessed, that the said Andrew 
Bryan, for and in consideration of the sum of Thirty 
pounds sterling mon^y to him in hand paid, did grant, 
bargain, sell, aliene, convey, and confirm unto the said 
Thomas Polhill, William Mathews, David Fox, and 
Josiah Fox, and the survivors and survivor of them, and 
to such successor and successors of them as might be 
appointed by the survivor of them in the manner in 
the said deed directed, in trust and to and for the use 
of the Baptist Church of Blacks at Savannah, over 
which the said Andrew Bryan did then preside, and 
had for some time presided, as pastor and minister, one 
equal moiety, being the half of all that lot of land 
(most part of said lot) situate lying and being at Yam- 
acraw above the City of Savannah, known by the- 
number seven (7) in the village of St. Gall, fronting 
Bryan or Odingsell Street, containing nearly ninety- 
five (95) feet in front and one hundred and thirty-two 
and a half (132 J) in depth ; bounded West and South 
by land of the late Doctor ^ Zubly, deceased ; East 
by a lot late the property of Richard Williams, de- 
ceased; and North by the main street leading from 
Yamacraw to the Brick Meeting-House, together with 



146 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the Brick Meeting-Hoose thereon erected and standings 
and all and singular the hooses, out-hooses, premises, 
and appurtenances to the same belonging. To Hold 
the same for the sole use and purpose of the public wor- 
ship of God by the societj of Blacks of the Baptist per- 
suasion, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever, and 
that on the death of any or either of the above-named 
Trustees the survivor or survivors might or should 
within one year thereafter nominate and appoint a sue* 
cesser or successors in the room of such deceased Trus- 
tee, which successor or successor^ so appointed should 
be considered as a party to the said deed for the uses 
and purposes thereby intended, all of which will more 
fully appear, reference being had to said deed. And, 
Whereas, in accordance with the provisions of said deed, 
the said William Mathews, as surviving Trustee, did 
nominate, constitute, and appoint by his deed of In- 
denture, dated the sixth day of December, one thousand 
eigth hundred and twenty-four, Moses Cleland, Josiah 
Penfield, and Edward Coppee to be co-trustees of the 
said property, under and by virtue of said deed. And 
Whereas the said Edward Coppee, as survivor of the 
said Trustees hereinbefore last mentioned, did nomi- 
nate, constitute, and appoint by his deed of Indenture, 
dated the day of April, one thousand eight 

hundred and forty, William W. Wash, Richard D. 
Arnold, and Abram Harmon to be co-trustees of the 
said property under and by virtue of the said deed. 
And Whereas the said Richard D. Arnold, as survivor of 
the Trustees hereinbefore last mentioned, did nominate, 
constitute, and appoint by his deed of Indenture, dated 



IN NORTH AMERICA. I47 

the twenty-third day of March, one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty, J. W. Rabun, Farley R. Sweat, 
and Lewis C. Tebeau to be co-trustees of the said prop- 
erty under and by virtue of the said deed, all of which 
will more fully appear, reference being had to said In- 
dentures. And Whereas the said J. W. Rabun has 
departed this life and the said Richard D. Arnold, 
Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis .C. Tebeau are the sur- 
viving Trustees under said last-mentioned appointment, 
and by virtue of the provisions of the said original In- 
denture. And Whereas, by the ordinances and laws 
of the State of Georgia, the members of and constitu- 
ting the said Baptist Church of Blacks are now in- 
vested with full and equal legal rights and capacities, 
and are no longer subject to any legal disabilities. 
And Whereas, under and by virtue of said laws, the 
members of said Church were duly incorporated at the 
January Term, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, of 
the Superior Court for Chatham County under the 
name and style of the First Bryan Baptist Church, as 
will fully appear, reference being had to the records of 
said Court. And Whereas, in and by said Act of in- 
corporation, it is amongst other things provided that the 
said Church may appoint such officers and Trustees as 
to it may appear proper, who may manage the affairs 
of the said corporation, and may receive and hold the 
property thereof to them and their successors in office, 
and may control the same for the use and benefit of 
the said Church according to the rules of discipline 
and method of Church government. And Whereas, 
in and by a decree in Equity had and obtained at the 



148 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

January Term aforesaid of the Superior Court for the 
County of Chatham, it is ordered that the said Richard 
D. Arnold, Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis C. Tebeau, 
Trustees as aforesaid, do grant, transfer, and assign to 
the said Church, or to the Trustees thereof and their 
successors in oflBce, the estate and property of the said 
Church held by them as aforesaid, to be received, held, 
and controlled by the said Trustees for the use and 
benefit of the said Church according to the trusts upon 
which said property was originally granted, and the 
Trustees of the said Church and their successors in 
office are by the said decree appointed and constituted 
Trustees to receive and manage the said property as 
aforesaid. And it is further ordered and decreed that 
upon executing such grant and transfer the said Rich- 
ard D, Arnold, Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis C. Tebeau 
be relieved from all further trust and from all responsi- 
bility in or about the said property, all of which will 
more fully appear, reference being had to said decree. 
Now, therefore, this Indenture Witnesseth, that the 
said Richard D. Arnold, Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis 
C. Tebeau, said parties of the first part, in considera- 
tion of the premises and of the incorporation aforesaid, 
and by virtue of the power in .them vested by the said 
decree, and for and in consideration of the sum of 
Five dollars to them in hand paid at and before the 
sealing and delivery of these presents, the receipt, where- 
of is hereby acknowledged. Have granted, bargained, 
sold, assigned, transferred, released, and confirmed, and 
by these presents Do grant, bargain, sell, assign, trans- 
fer, release, and confirm unto the said Alexander Har- 



IN NORTH AMERICA, I49 

ris, Lewis Ross, J. W. Toer, Quibus Fraser, and 
Daniel Butler, said parties of the second part, Trus- 
tees of the said First Bryan Baptist Church and their 
successors in office and assigns, the said lot of land 
and Brick Meeting-House and all and singular the 
premises and property of the said Church, held by 
them in trust as aforesaid, and all of the, estate, right, 
title, property, and interest of every nature and kind 
of the said parties of the first part. To Have and To 
Hold the said bargained premises and every of them 
unto the said parties of the second part as Trustees of 
the said First Bryan Baptist Church, and to their 
successors in office and assigns forever.^ In Trust, 
nevertheless, for the use and benefit of the First Baptist 
Church, and to and for the several uses, intents, and 
purposes in the said original deed of trust specified 
and hereinbefore in part recited, and to and for no 
other uses, intents, or purposes whatsoever. 

" In Witness whereof, the said Richard D. Arnold, 
Farley R. Sweat, and Lewis C. Tebeau, Trustees as 
aforesaid, have hereunto set their hands and seals the 
day and year first above written. 

" R. D. Arnold, [l.s.] 

"Lewis C. Tebeau, [l.s.] 
" F. R. Sweat. [l.s.] 

" Signed, Sealed, and Delivered in presence of us, 

".R. Wayne Russell, 
" Geo. a. Mercer, 

" Not Pub., a a, Ga> 



150 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

" Not subject to stamp duty, 

" A. N. Wilson, CoU. 

" Recorded May 11, 1867, Book 3 Z«, folios 26et8eq. 

"Georgia, Chatham County, 1 
" Clerk^s Office, Superior Court. / 

" I, Barnard E. Bee, clerk of said Court, do hereby 
certify the writing on this and the foregoing six pages 
to be a true copy of the above deed, as appears of 
record in this oflBce in Book 3 Z*, folios 26 et seq. 

" In Testimony whereof, I have hereto set my official 
signature and affixed the seal of said Court this 26th 
day of January, a.d. 1884. 

[l.s.] " Barnard E. Bee, 

" ckrk, 8. a a c:' 

In 1868 the church was represented in the Associa- 
tion by Rev. A. Neyle and A. Harris. (The pastor 
had leave of absence to be in attendance as a member 
of the Georgia Legislature, he having been elected to 
the lower house, representing the county of Bryan in 
that body.) The statistics were: baptized, 33; re- 
ceived by letter, 13 ; membership, 541, — ^gain, 28. In 
1869 the delegates were Rev. U. L. Houston and A. 
Harris. Biaptized, 53; received by letter, 14; mem- 
bership, 574. In 1870 represented by Houston, G. 
Frazer, A. Harris, and James Andrews ; baptized, 20 ; 
received by letter, 2 ; membership, 583. The pastor 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 151 

was still engaged in his duties as a member of the 
State legislature, and attended tins session by leave of 
absence from that assembly. After he returned to 
Atlanta, the seat of government, a conspiracy was 
formed to oust him from his pastorate, which he had 
held for about nine years. By his zeal and the grace 
that had been given him from God, evidenced by the 
success he had attained, — a success beyond any pastor 
that had served the church since Mr. A. Marshall, — 
he had endeared himself to a large majority of the 
members, and in many ways was quite acceptable to 
the community, until, for two or more years past, he 
had taken some part in the political affairs of the 
State, which became necessary under the new order of 
affairs in the country, giving the franchise to the 
emancipated slaves and creating them citizens by law. 
In seeking out men to represent the colored people in 
the councils of the nation and State, it was believed 
that the most competent men were to be found, with 
few exceptions, among the ministers of the gospel of 
Christ ; and while it is to be deeply regretted that this 
was so, on account of a sound principle in the govern- 
ment of this country, that it is best to have a separa- 
tion of Church and State, yet in the very nature of 
things in the past of our people it was unavoidable ; 
and thus many pastors and preachers necessarily had 
to leave their flock and legitimate field of labor to 



152 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

enter the arena of politics in order to secare right and 
justice for their people. And the people instinctively 
felt this necessity, and consented to their spiritual de- 
privation for the time being, notwithstanding the white 
citizens among whom they lived and served, and the 
late owners, constantly spoke disparagingly of the 
ministers who served in these positions. They very 
often convinced some men of weak judgment and 
vacillating minds among our race, and thereby excited 
dissension and division even in our churches; but 
there were also some men of intelligence and ability, 
capable of better judgment, who, jealous of the. suc- 
cess of others in the positions they were chosen to, 
became easily incited to 'opposition and evil designs, 
and fitting tools for those whose purpose it was 
to divide and weaken our people, the better to prey 
upon and again enslave them by weaving a web 
of circumstances around them of secondary bondage 
inexplicable, at least for many years ; thus many new 
trials arose with which the church had never had any 
experience, and which they now had to meet and over- 
come by faith and humble prayer. 

Since the death of the aged deacon, Adam Johnson, 
in 1853, no deacon of the church, it seems, possessed 
those controlling qualities which he exhibited in the 
degree that brother Alexander Harris did, whose highly 
intelligent mind and indomitable will gave him the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 153 

leading place in the affairs of the church in the ab- 
sence of the pastor; and in some measure controlled 
his actions in the rulings incumbent in his office. 
Step by step he seemed to gain ascendency in this 
direction ; and not always using the power with due 
propriety, and with that special regard for the glory 
of God, but mere purpose of exhibiting his personal 
strength and influence, while most of his brethren in 
the church and in the deaconship with him, having 
less mental ability and business qualities, yet being 
more kind and considerate of the Christian needs of 
the members, bore more weight with the majority 
of them. In the conference meetings for the disci- 
plining of members, or devising ways and means for 
the progress of the church, using his superior powers 
of debating, — tenacious of his views, not always the 
best, most beneficial or agreeable, — ^there naturally 
arose such a degree of friction between himself and 
colleagues in office that his best help became irksome 
to the most of them. Brother Harris as a man 
seemed to be compounded of some opposite natural 
qualities. Physically, like Mr. Johnson, he was above 
the medium, tall and commanding in appearance as 
he moved, finely developed head, and well-cut, regu- 
lar facial features, large, full eyes, roundly-turned 
. chin, medium large mouth and clear voice. Yet 
his natural manner and way of acting were pecu- 



154 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Harly repulsive. Quick of perception, deep thinking, 
having an impediment of speech, his delivery be- 
came difficult, and naturally, when opposed, irritable 
and pugnacious in a moral sense, but quickly affable 
when in concord with. Thus, like the traveller on 
the road, the fierce blinding wind and storm made 
him hold the more tightly his cloak; and it is the 
warm, bright genial sun that makes him lay it off. 
So to his brethren he became powerful but unpopular. 
Wise and wilful but unlovable by the people, he was 
most interested in as a public servant of our Lord and 
Saviour Jesus Christ. His brethren feared him more 
than they respected him, and in the church often 
yielded to his opinions because they feared his power ; 
and therefore with a view to harmony in their 
council, , they invited or requested him to exercise 
his gifts in a different part of the work, by licensing 
him to preach. 

The church had connected by membership branches 
in the country among her scattered members, located 
upon St. Catharine and Skidaway Islands ; and a part 
of the members of the Great Ogeechee church, which 
had become much demoralized by the war, she 
sheltered under her watchful care, and fed them at 
stated times with the Bread of life at a plantation 
called Woodstock, where Brother Harris had cus- 
tomarily attended them with the word, at least once 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 156 

each month. It was upon a Sabbath day of one of 
these visits^ and he absent^ that the church in con- 
ference removed him from the deaconship, passed the 
resolution inviting him to preach; against which act, 
upon learning, he strongly protested ; proclaiming that 
he never had said to any one that he felt called on 
to preach, and the church by his request rescinded 
her actions and restored him to the deaconship. 

It must not be supposed that with the several 
objectionable features of this brother's character and 
manner he had neither admirers nor followersk In 
certain secular contingencies that had arisen in the 
church some of the very qualities he possessed seemed 
both necessary and desirable, and with men of intel- 
lectual equality and distinction would be admired 
and respected ; and in the church there were a num- 
ber of those who had been reared up from childhood 
under the care and Christian teachings of Mr. Johnson, 
and whose parents had been his stanchest supporters 
in the earlier days of the church, that saw in this 
brother his prototype and successor, and were prepared 
at all times to be guided and controlled by his advice, 
and therefore stood by and supported him. With 
this class of followers, and a few others whom he 
bound to himself by particular or personal services 
rendered, and who felt obligated to him, he attempted, 
in the absence of the pastor, to usurp his place. 



156 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

The conspiracy seemed to have begun soon after 
the adjournment of the Association, which met at 
Grahamville in July, 1870, and while the pastor was 
still at Atlanta, in attendance as a legislator of the 
State. The custom of the church at this time was to 
call their pastor yearly, and as his term would ex- 
pire in a short while, and his term of office in the 
State Assembly expired nearly about the same time, 
he had stood for re-election, received the nomination 
from his constituents of Bryan County, and was 
busily* engaged in the canvass of county and State. 
Mr. Harris, seeing this, made a pretext for advising 
the church not to recall him the next year, as his 
service to the people in their political interest was 
such that they must make the sacrifice and do with- 
out him. However, the officers felt that the pastor 
should not stand for re-election, because while in the 
legislature they found it very difficult to fill his 
place on communion days, as he was away; but he 
persuaded the church that, should he return, the 
period of the term would be short, as they by law 
could sit only forty days. Deacon Harris insisted 
that the pastor could not tell anything about that, as 
the body could change the law, and that he ought 
not to go, and if he went the church ought not to 
recall him. Houston^s reply to this was that he was 
again nominated by his constituents, and nothing 



IN NORTH AMERICA, I57 

would keep him from going but defeat at the polls. 
Thus, when he went into the canvass determined to be 
re-elected, he left the deacon determined to defeat his 
recall; and he iiad the decided advantage in the 
argument made against the pastor's running for the 
political office, as he could show the need of the 
pastor's presence at home, so that when he was absent 
after this argument before the people, he picked the 
favorable opportunity, and got a resolution passed not 
to recall him. 

The church had reported this year a membership of 
five hundred and eighty-three,, two-thirds of whom 
resided in the city and generally attended conference 
at the time. Those present at the conference, April 
15,. 1871, vary in the estimate of the number present, 
but all agree that there were not less than between one 
hundred and fifty and two hundred. Brother Harris 
in the chair, the church proceeded to elect a pastor. 
Bevs. Andrew Neyle, David Walters himself, and 
Brother J. 8. Habersham, were nominated. A brother 
arose and nominated Bev. U. L. Houston. The chair 
stated that the nomination was out of order and could 
not be entertained. The brother persisting in his pur- 
pose to nominate Mr. Houston, and being seconded by 
several brethren. Brother Harris called Rev Mr. Neyle 
to the chair, and proceeded in a very boisterous manner 

to show that they could not use that name ; and it was 

8 



158 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

disorderly, because they had at a previous conference 
resolved by vote that they would not recall Houston. 
After silencing the parties completely, without any 
allusion to the right of the body to reconsider the pre- 
vious vote he alluded to, and knowing their ignorance 
of usual parliamentary usages, those who understood 
it somewhat seemed to be with him, he resumed the 
chair and took the vote on the four already nominated, 
which, when called to rise and stand until counted, 
stood: Neyle, 15; Watters, 15; Harris, 34; Haber- 
sham, 16. We do not vouch for the perfect correctness 
of these figures, but are sure they are a close approxi- 
mation. This vote was in the aggregate cast for the 
four candidates nominated, only about half of the mem- 
bers being present, the others not voting because they 
desired to vote for Mr. Houston, and urgently expressed 
themselves to that eflfect. But the chair positively 
refused to permit an expression of their choice by vote, 
and declared himself duly elected, having received the 
largest plurality of the votes cast, and thus became 
elected pastor of a Baptist church of five hundred and 
eighty-three members, about two hundred beingpresent, 
and receiving only thirty-four votes of the whole. 
The meeting adjourned with a general murmuring of 
dissatisfaction, many expressing the determination that 
the said election should not stand ; but a majority of 
the members, with Christian meekness and patience^ 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 159 

bore the injustice. The bold action of the man seemed 
to paralyze the church and the deacons who had not 
joined in the conspiracy with him. Some of them, not 
feeling competent to act in the matter, sought counsel of 
brethren of other churches no stronger than themselves, 
and who endeavored to act as arbitrators, but with 
no success; all appeals for Christian fairness availed 
nothing; this brother's mind seemed made up to a 
purpose that he would not desist from. SuflSce it to 
say, that he gathered together a council of brethren 
weak enough to suit the purpose, used the name of the 
church in calling them to act as an ordaining presbytery, 
had himself ordained, had himself and the clerk of the 
church appointed delegates to the Association, and ap- 
peared there July 14, 1871, as pastor of the church.* 

Mr. Houston, having failed of re-election to the 
legislature for another term, and having timidly re- 
mained away from his post of duty to a people who 
really loved him, with the few exceptions stated, find- 
ing his place now usurped, went to the aid of a Baptist 
people who were put out from the white brethren of a 
church in Liberty County. He organized them under 
a bush arbor as the Zion 'Baptist Church of Liberty 
County (now a large and flourishipg church), and also 
went to the Association meeting at Brunswick, Georgia, 

* Minutes of Zion Baptist Association, 1871, pages 5, 6, 7, 11, 
16, 17, 26. 



\ 



160 ^J^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CBURCB 

representing it as pastor^ and applying for recognition 
and membership ; but claiming also by letter to rep- 
resent a majority of the members of the First Bryan 
Baptist Church, with Deacon William Green as asso- 
ciate. When the question of the contesting delega- 
tions came up, the Association, after considerable de- 
bate, laid the question on the table the first day, because 
of this vexed question retarding the business. They 
took it from the table on the fourth-day morning, and 
debated it until the hour of adjournment. The subject 
was resumed in the afternoon, then, and decided by a 
vote of twenty to eleven that "the letter from the 
First Bryan Baptist Church, borne by Rev. A. Harris, 
was the legal letter of that church, and nftist be re- 
ceived,^' and, as it seems, to soften somewhat the 
glaring wrong which they felt was perpetrated upon 
that people, passed this resolution : 

^ ^^ Resolved, That we as an Association sympathize 
witlr-the majority of the members of the First Bryan 
Baptist C&urch of Savannah. But as it is out of our 
power to interfere with the internal affairs of indi- 
vidual churches, we would' recommend that they en- 
deavor to reconcile affairs within themselves. And the 
clerk be instructed to forward by the hand of Brother 
William Green a copy of this resolution, with the 
regrets of this body that such should have occurred/' 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 161 

It IS not very clear what is meant by " such ahovM 
have occurredy'^ whether it be what Brother Harris did 
towards the majority of the church, what they did in 
receiving the usurping delegation, the impudent actions 
of the brother in that body, or that this old mother 
church should be suflFering as she then was again a 
second time. We suppose the latter ; but the peculiar 
and indefinite wording of the resolution, especially the 
closing sentence, would cover any or all of those points. 
But the sharpness of the third will be better seen in 
his having himself appointed chairman of the com- 
mittee on nominations for next session by offering the 
motion to appoint them. Three other very weak 
brethren 'were appointed upon that committee with 
him, one only of whom could not be controlled by him, 
who reported back his own name to preach the intro- 
ductory sermon. 

The statistical report made that year read as follows 
(and we suppose is correct, as the figures must have 
been taken from the books by the clerk, who was also 
one of the delegates) : baptized, 65 ; received by letter, 
8; restored, 22; dismissed, 2; expelled, 13; dropped, 
13 ; membership, 427. Twenty days after the adjourn- 
ment of the Association, on the 7th of August, Mr. 
Harris presented to a called meeting of the church a 
committee from a council of ministering brethren, held 
in the Savannah Baptist Church, — Rev. Farley Sweat 



162 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

(white), Eev. W. J. Campbell (colored). The former 
read the decision of the Council, made upon the ex 
parte statement of Harris and his friends. *f The de- 
cision declared Mr. Harris elected pastor of the church 
by the silence of the majority, who did not vote be- 
cause he (Mr. Harris) would not let them vote as they 
pleased, or as an honest Christian brother in the chair 
should, whose duty it is to regulate the debates and 
facilitate the business of the conference, especially upon 
so sacred a duty as the calling of a pastor."* 

After reading the report Brother Sweat asked what 
action should be taken upon it, and it was moved, 
seconded, and unanimously voted that it be received. 
It was then immediately moved and seconded also that 
it be adopted, but that vote was largely in the nega- 
tive, showing the church's respect for the brethren of 
the council and committee but not for their opinions 
upon this case. What the Church bound on earth 
shall be bound in heaven, is the promise of the gospel, 
not what a small faction of the Church and an ex 
parte council did. The true body of that Church 
present on that evening showed by their action then 
and there that their eyes had become opened and that 
they had not thus bound themselves, though seemingly 
bound, and trusted God to loose them if they were. 

 Minutes of the First Bryan Baptist Church, August 27, 1871. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 163 

Brother Campbell, of the committee, then made some 
persuasive remarks, which the church heard with re- 
spectful silence. Seeing he could do nothing, Mr. 
Harris then sang the Doxology ; and before he could 
declare the meeting dismissed. Deacon William Green 
requested the members to remain, when, on motion, 
the church resolved itself into a conference and called 
Brother Green to the chair, who, after leading in 
prayer, asked what should be done,- seeing the dis- 
satisfaction with the report. On motion it was re- 
solved that as the committee of that council simply 
gave their decision, — which was respectfully heard and 
differed with by so large a body of the members, — 
they should have inquired the reason for their refusal 
to adopt it ; as they did not, that no more notice be 
taken of it. On motion they restored to his rights 
Brother J. S. Habersham, whom Mr. Harris had im- 
peached. Also, on motion, and by a unanimous vote, 
two of the three living trustees — namely Alexander 
Harris and Daniel Butler — were removed, and Brother 
Quives Frazer, Revs. J. M. Simms and David Watters 
were elected, and the conference adjourned. Thus the 
proceedings of opposition, commenced at the meeting 
of the Association for the first time after the usurpa- 
tion, were resumed here as an irrepressible conflict be- 
tween right and wrong in the church. 



Ifi4 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



CHAPTER X. 

Sabbath morning, July 27, the churcli met and 
took steps to protest against the action of Brother 
Harris and others in locking the doors of the church 
against them, and against his entering their pulpit 
without their consent or permission.* On motion, it 
was resolved that, if he made the attempt to preach 
on that Sabbath, Deacon William Green be instructed 
to rise in his seat and respectfully say to Brother 
Harris that the church protests against his entering 
their pulpit, as he is not their pastor ; that he should 
repeat the expression three times in a peaceable manner, 
and then sit down quietly until after the church ser- 
vice was over. He did precisely as he was directed 
by the church in conference. Harris paid no atten- 
tion, but conducted the usual service, a large majority 
of the members present taking no part, though quietly 
sitting, only the few followers of Mr. Harris joining 
him in the singing, etc. As soon as he had pro- 
nounced the benediction and had come down from the 
pulpit. Deacon Green, as instructed, requested the 
members to remain in their seats. He was called to 
the chair by vote, and Brother J. 8. Habersham was 
requested to act as secretary. After resolving the 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 166 

meeting into a conference^ on motion^ the action of 
Brother Harris and those officers concerned in closing 
^up the doors of the church-building was condemned, 
and they were also suspended from their office. 

The lettenB of acceptance from the new trustees- elect 
were read and received, and they were subsequently 
requested to take such steps as were necessary to re- 
cover and protect the church property. It was also 
resolved at this meeting that the regular communion 
services, which should have taken place that day, be 
suspended until the church settles her present difficulty 
and is again at peace. The conference adjourned to 
meet at the next regular conference, on the third 
Sunday in September. 

On Monday, the 28th, after the foregoing, Harris 
placed Green upon the information docket of the city, 
charged with a violation of law, by disturbing the 
public services of his church. He (Green) was cited 
to appear on Wednesday the 30th, and so did, — Harris 
and some others appearing against him before the 
mayor, and Green, by counsel, requested a postpone- 
ment until the next Friday. On that day, the case 
being up, counsel for Green pleaded want of jurisdic- 
tion for the crime charged, it being a misdemeanor 
punishable only by the State courts, and, on motion of 
his counsel, the mayor dismissed the case. On Wednes- 
day evening, the 30th, in which the case of Brother 

8* 



166 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

m 

Green was before the court, the church held a called 
conference in the lecture-room of the Second African 
Church, by permission. Brother Green was called to 
the chair. After stating the object of the call, it was 
resolved to provide funds by a collection for feeing 
the lawyers who were to defend Brother Green. The 
letter of acceptance of Brother James M. Simms, as 
one of the trustees, was received, read, and a com- 
mittee was appointed to call upon Brother A. Harris 
and request him to deliver up the keys of the church- 
biiilding, who reported that they had so done, and that 
he refused to surrender them. The members present at 
this meeting were counted, and numbered one hundred. 
While the case of Brother W. Green was being 
tried, on the following Friday, the trustees took in 
charge the church-building by having a new set of 
locks put on, and held the keys in their possession 
for the church, and subsequently applied to the judge 
of the Superior Court to enjoin Brother Harris from 
interfering with the church or entering the church- 
building until he should show his right as the pastor. 
It so happened that the judge was upon the eve of 
leaving the State, upon a summer vacation, at the time 
of granting the writ, and, the sheriff not serving the 
same until after his departure, there was no remedy 
for Brother Harris until his return, it seems, as the 
case was not argued until the following November. 



IN NORTH AMERICA: 167 

Daring the interval the church was in peaceful posses- 
sion of the building, as the writ enjoined none 
but Harris. Yet it seems that the parties taking sides 
with him never entered the church services, with a 
few exceptions, perhaps, of those who had changed 
their views and left him finally. 

The church met in extra conference on September 
10, 1871, calling Brother Quives Frazer to the chair, 
and the secretary-elect, Edward Wicks, who for a 
time seemed to have gone over to the Harris party, 
being present at this conference, made some explana- 
tion of his position upon the questions in dispute, 
which being satisfactory, on motion, he was permitted 
to resume his place. 

The branch of the church at Woodstock sent a 
letter, asking the privilege of withdrawing themselves, 
as they intended to reorganize the Great Ogeechee 
body. On motion, their request was granted. On 
motion, Brethren Wm. Green and Edward Wicks 
were set. apart for ordination as deacons of this church 
on the 14th inst., and that the day be observed as a 
day of fasting and prayer. A committee, composed 
of the two last-named brethren, was sent to call upon 
Sister Sarah Harrison, where the vessels and linen used 
in the communion service were kept, and * requested 
that she deliver them to the church. Her house 
had been the depository of them for some years. 



\ 



168 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

« 

The wine-pitchers, cup8, and bread-baskets were of 
silver, with the name of the church engraved upon 
them. They have never been found. 

The church met on the 14th, pursuant to her ad- 
journment on the 10th. Rev. Andrew Neyle was called 
to the chair, and three additional brethren (A. Denslow, 
P. Jackson, and G. B. Lewis) were set apart to the 
deaconship, having received the highest number of 
votes among six brethren nominated for the office ; and 
agreeably to the resolution of the 10th, Brethren Green 
and Wicks were solemnly ordained the same evening. 

The church also in regular conference, on the 17th 
of September, adopted these resolutions : 

"Whereas, Brother Alexander Harris has as a 
member of this church assumed powers not delegated 
to him and unwarranted as a deacon, and by such 
assumption has inflicted great evils upon this church, 
he procuring by false representation his ordination to 
the gospel ministry, attempting to preside as the pastor 
of this church against the wishes and the protestation 
of two-thirds of its members. 

^^ Secondly y Making false reports to the authorities 
of the city relative to the good order of the church, 
and bringing police-officers within the grounds to 
intimidate us from the enjoyment of our corporate and 
spiritual privileges, and closing the doors of the house 
of God against us for three weeks, bringing reproach 
upon us as a Christian body, by indicting in the police- 



» IN NORTH AMERICA. 169 

court of the city our brother, William Green, whom 
the church has appointed to the deaconship, and elected 
as its chairman to preside during her business confer- 
ences, and for other purposes, and whom they had em- 
powered to protest against the illegal and irregular acts 
of Brother Harris. 

" Thirdly, And whereas this church on Sabbath, 
the 3d of September, 1871, met in solemn conference, 
and cited Brother A. Harris, who was then present, to 
answer for his unlawful actions, yet he, in the spirit of 
arrogance and contempt, ignored the authority of the 
church, and left the house and his brethren who de- 
sired, in the spirit of forbearance, to admonish him to 
heed their counsel. 

" And whereas. This church conceived it her duty 
to so far admonish Brother Harris, inflict the censure 
of suspension from his privileges in this church until 
he should reflect and repent of his actions, and notified 
him of this fact, and he, in a total disregard of this 
action of the church, met in the afternoon of the same 
day and essayed to ofiiciate in and administer to a few 
of his followers the holy ordinance of the Lord's Sup- 
per, which act we feel was highly improper, if not 
sacrilegious; therefore, 

" Resolved, That this church do hereby declare that 
all these several acts herein cited are highly improper, 
wrong, and sinful in our brother, A. Harris, and not 
prompted by the spirit that should characterize a 
Christian member of the church ; and for such actions 
we do declare Brother Alexander Harris expelled from 
our membership, praying his repentance and return. 



170 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH ^ 

^^ Beaolvedf That we do hereby admonish those ot 
our brethren and sisters^ members of this chnrch, who 
have by the ill advice of Brother A, Harris lent their 
aid to these illegal acts of his, to depart from their 
errors and return to their covenant relations and duties 
of the church on pain of expulsion for a failure so to 
do ; and the deacons, acting in their capacity as such,, 
are requested to seek out such of our members, and, in 
the spirit of Christian forbearance and brotherly love, 
notify them of the consequences should they neglect 
to comply with these requirements after hearing the 
reading of these resolutions/^* 

These resolutions were unanimously passed in the 
conference; and by resolution Brother E. Wicks and 
Sister Elizabeth Edy were requested to resume the 
work of the Sabbath-school, which had been sus- 
pended since these difficulties began. At the confer- 
ence of October 15, Brother William Rivers, one of 
the deacons, who was among the followers of Mr. 
Harris, returned, gave due satisfaction, and was re- 
stored to all of his privileges as a member and deacon ; 
and at that of November 19, a letter was received from 
the Woodstock branch, notifying the church that they 
had become organized as a sister church, under the old 
title of the Ogeechee Baptist Church. At an extra 
conference, held on the 19th of December, it was 
voted that the last Sabbath in the month, being the 

* Minutes of the church, September 17, 1871. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 171 

31st^ be set apart as the day for calling a pastor by 
fasting and praying through the day. The church 
met in extra conference on the 28th^ and unanimously 
reconsidered the vote she passed in March, declaring 
that she would not recall Rev. U. L. Houston, and on 
the afternoon of December 31, he was recalled to the 
pastorate by a unanimous vote of one hundred and 
thirty-four. It was also resolved that the time of 
service be not specified, but that he remain as pastor 
as long as agreeable to himself and the church. 

With this rec^l the pastor re-entered upon his duties 
with the year 1872. During all the conflict he was 
absent, serving the churches lately organized by him, — 
one at North Newport, Liberty County ; the other near 
the Great Ogeechee, in Chatham County. The first is 
known as the Zion and the latter the Ogeechee ; both 
of which are still thriving, prosperous bodies, with 
commodious and neat grounds and buildings for country 
churches. 

At the regular church conference, held January 21, 
1872, Brother J. M. Simms, one of the lately-elected 
trustees, was received as a member of this church by 
letter from the First African Baptist Church of this 
city. He had been a member of that church from 
early youth, and gave her much service in his more 
mature manhood. He had been clerk of the church 
from 1858, and also acted as deacon until 1863, when 



172 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

he was licensed by the church to preach. He was 
master-builder in the erection of her new brick edifice, 
and organized the Sabbath-school of the church, she 
having had none from the separation from this body, in 
1832. Born and reared in Savannah, Brother Simms 
was well known to all, and, like the pastor of the church, - 
had taken an active part in seeking to secure the polit- 
ical rights of his people. He was also elected to the 
Georgia Legislature, and served during the same term 
with Rev. Mr. Houston ; thus they were intimate in 
their relations. He was ordained s^ minister of the 
gospel by the Twelfth Baptist Church of Boston, Mas- 
sachusetts, while sojourning there during the late war, 
and returned to his church at its close, in 1865. But, 
his church taking odence at his becoming ordained in 
his absence "from her, he fell under disfavor in the 
body through the influence of the pastor, Rev. W. J. 
Campbell ; and thus took his letter and removed back 
to this old church, whose roof sheltered him when 
Mr. Marshall was its pastor, and in whose Sunday- 
school he received his earliest religious teachings. The 
church, on receiving him into membership, passed a 
resolution recognizing his office as a minister of the 
gospel and welcoming him to her pulpit, and he at once 
became a timely auxiliary to the church and pastor. 

The church in extra conference, on February 11 of 
this year, took measures looking to a reconciliation with 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 173 

all of her revolting members^ if possible^ and 80 ap- 
pointed committees to call upon them and endeavor to 
bring the same about. Her communicants had been 
suspended on account of the disturbances arising out 
of the usurpation of the churches powers and preroga- 
tives by ambitious brethren and their deluded follow- 
ers ; and the church was continuously in a feverish state 
of excitement, with the feeling then existing, and 
which had existed for several months, and now some 
of the more conservative suggested the calling together 
of all of the male members of the church, without 
reference to what had been done, and consult in order 
to harmonize. 

The meeting was held February 22, in the lecture- 
room of this church. There was considerable argu- 
ment before a chairman was selected, ea<5h wing of the 
division desiring to have the honor of presiding, feel- 
ing they had the right ; one side by virtue of being 
the majority, with the rightful pastor, and the other 
claiming they were the church by virtue of the recog- 
nition of Mr. Harris as the pastor by the Association, 
« and a council of ministers. They finally submitted 
. the question to a vote, and Brother Q. Frazer was 
elected the chairman, he being with the majority and 
one of the oldest trustees, but a mild, conservative 
Christian brother, in whom all had much confidence. 
As a basis of settlement it was insisted upon that the 



174 I'SE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

meeting should decide who was the church and on 
which side was its power and authority. It was 
resolved that the church was in itself the sovereign 
power, and independent of all other powers in her 
spiritual affairs, subject only to Christ, and that in a 
Baptist church the majority of the members, in any 
matters of the church rules, must be obeyed, and what 
they do must be sustained, and that we so recommend 
to the church. When this resolution passed, the party 
with Mr. Harris walked out of the meeting, and the 
effort at reconciliation became a failure. The report of 
this meeting was submitted to the church in her con- 
ference, and was received and adopted March 3, 1872. 
The trustees reported also at this meeting that they had 
called upon Brother Harris, informed him of their 
appointment, and desired him to deliver to them any 
books, papers, or other property he held belonging to 
the church, and that he declined either to recognize 
their authority or to surrender what he held until he 
should see further into the matter. At this conference 
two more of Brother Harris's most violent partisans, 
namely, Isaac Butler and Edward Harden, were ex- 
pelled for gross and improper temper and language 
in the meetings of the church; also at the same 
meeting Brother John Williams, under watch-care, and 
licensed to preach by this church, was dropped from 
her fellowship, and his license was revoked. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 175 

It will be remembered that in September, 1871, the 
newly-elected trustees procured an injunction, restrain- 
ing Brother Harris from interfering with the rights of 
the church, as shown in the preceding chapter. On the 
14th of this month (March) he with counsel appeared 
before the judge of the Superior Court that granted the 
Trustees the injunction, and it appears that they satisfied 
his Honor of his election to the pastorate of the church. 
Neither the trustees nor any one on the part of the 
majority having received notice to appear, however, his 
Honor the judge dissolved the injunction granted in 
September last, and granted Harris a temporary , in- 
junction against the Trustees. 

The church resolved to set apart Sunday, the 18th, as 
a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, not knowing 
the deep trial and sorrow she would be called to pass 
through on that day. The morning opened clear and 
beautiful, and at early dawn the members met and 
opened their meeting with singing and prayer, led by 
the several official and lay brethren ; and so continued 
until about eleven o'clock in the day, when, to the 
surprise of all. Brother Harris, who had not been in 
that house for more than six months, entered the 
eastern front door, stately walked up the aisle, fol- 
lowed by about twenty odd of his adherents, who, 
as he stepped into the pulpit, took seats in the pews, 
grouping together as closely as it was convenient for 



176 I'^E FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

them. Mr. Harris sat down in the pulpit, his large, 
full eyes gleaming with defiance as he. glanced over 
Ithe assembly; his face, rigid with resolve, and lips 
compressed together, indicative of a firm determi- 
nation, seemed to paralyze the church for a few 
minutes; but as he arose, hymn-book in hand, to 
announce the number and recite the stanzas, the death- 
like stillness of the moment was broken by a brother 
sitting in the front pew nearest the pulpit, and of 
course nearest the speaker, who was seized with a 
violent fit of coughing. This in itself would not ap- 
pear strange in any church at this time, but it in- 
stantly became contagious, and soon nearly every one 
in the house, excepting those with Mr. Harris, was 
violently coughing, so that when the little flock who 
followed in his lead raised their hymn of victory, it 
was really like the chirping of birds on a very windy 
day in March, and could not be heard; and, as 
it was incessant, the thwarted brother in the pulpit 
beckoned with his finger to the tallest deacon he had 
among his party, William Washington, who left the 
house for a few moments, and returned with a city 
police-officer as tall as himself (over six feet), in full 
uniform, — helmet, red-top boots, and large brass spurs, 
— armed with pistol and club in his belt. As he 
stalked into the church, and up to the pulpit, he was 
saluted with this strange chorus of coughers, who 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 177 

otherwise sat still in their seats. Mr. Harris leaned 
over the pulpit-rail and spoke to the officer. What he 
said of course was not known, but in a slight lull in the 
chorus, led by the brother in the front pew, who 
seemed to regulate the pitch (now down to a " pianis- 
simo,^^ or the softest tones), the officer was heard to 
say, as he gazed around and his eyes rested inquiringly 
upon the brother in the front pew, " I see nothing dis- 
orderly, only that everybody seems to have a bad 
cold ;*' and with this he went out and left the band 
which had entered so victoriously half an hour before 
quite in a dilemma. It is thought that the officer, fear- 
ing to take so weighty a responsibility upon himself at 
this crisis, referred Harris to the barracks where his 
chief was. He left a few moments after the police- 
officer, followed by his members, and the chilling blast 
of his presence being removed, the coughing ceased; the 
tempest of the hearts in the church was stilled, and 
the legitimate service of the meeting was resumed, and 
it was good to be there to hear the Christians then 
sing and pray. 

The service of fasting and prayer was timely and 
proper, in the highest sense, on this occasion, if 
ever, for the church was even, as twice before, " low 
down in the valley of humiliation ;'' but she seemed 
to remember in this day and hour, though her way 
was dark, that sure promise of her God, " CaU tmto 



178 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and 
mighty ihings, which them Jcnpwest not;^'* and surely 
it was to be» The service continued without the 
slightest incident to mar its solemnity during the after- 
noon^ and the singing and praying waxed warmer as 
the sun sank in the western horizon, when the meeting 
closed with a solemn-sounding doxology, as it is the 
Baptists' custom to sing on parting; but down in 
the vale at sunset the acclaim was solemn and low ; 
it was as the soft bleating of the sheep instinctively 
feeling the coming of a storm at night when the 
sun goes down in a dark cloud. So, as they sang this 
doxology and received the parting benediction, with 
injunction to return in the evening after they had 
broken their fast, they separated. 

Although the late service was calm and peaceful, 
the brethren had their misgivings aroused by the 
quiet leaving of Mr. Harris and party. The pastor 
and Trustee Simms, who knew Brother Harris well, 
counselled together, and kept a careful watch for what 
might come, believing the afternoon calm was but the 
precursor of the coming storm ; and at the opening of 
the door for the evening service were present in their 
seats upon the platform fronting below the pulpit, one 
on the right and the other on the left of that position. 

* Jeremiah zxziii. 8. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 179 

The seats were well filled with the members ; and the 
deacons and congregation were singing a spiritual song 
(as the homely compositions are called) in a low but 
sweetly plaintive tone — ^all seemingly as calm without 
as one could wish it to be (nature seemed to be 
engaged in the scene that was about to be enacted^ as 
the day was fair until the sun went down, and just at 
this hour it clouded up) — when Mr. Harris entered the 
church again, as in the morning, only with but few 
of his followers. As he was about half way up the 
aisle, between the door and the desk, a police sergeant 
stepped inside the door and stood looking at him as 
he mounted the steps of the pulpit. As he stepped 
in, a trustee arose from his seat and in tones of stern 
reproof exclaimed, " Mr. Harris, in the name of this 
church I protest against this usurpation,^^ or nearly 
in those words, and the pastor arose also almost 
simultaneously, and said, in a voice deep with feeling, 
" Yes, and I, in the name of God, protest.^' . While they 
were speaking there could also be heard at the front 
door the loud tones of the oflBcer, " Kush in, men V^ 
and ere the sound of the words of the trustee and 
pastor, aforesaid, had died away the sergeant had seized 
the former by the collar of his coat, and another 
ofiBcer the pastor, with the order, "Take them out 
to the barracks,^^ as he handed the trustee over to 
one of his subordinates. As they were both being 



180 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

roughly pulled towards the door the excitement was 
terrible, the men rushing towards the pulpit and the 
women screaming in their fright. The police, fearing 
no doubt an attack from the men, drew their pistols 
and fired two shots; and to crown the scene with 
horror, some one turned off the gas, and left them, as 
it were, in the darkness of midnight. By this time 
the trustee and pastor were out of the tumult, in 
the street, without hats and in the rain. The police- 
oflBcers, seeming content with the arrest of these two, — 
no doubt agreed upon and so ordered by their chief, — 
molested no one else of the large crowd who followed 
them to the station-house. It is not known with 
certainty how Mr. Harris got out, there being a large 
window behind him as he stood in the pulpit, open- 
ing into the back part of the lot ; no doubt he found 
safe exit by it, and, maybe, jumped over the back 
fence and took the nearest route towards his residence 
or that of some of his friends. However, he was 
not seen again that night, nor did he appear at the 
police-station to prefer charges, as is customary in 
breaches of the peace. Houston and Simms were 
taken there, and searched and dispossessed of what 
their pockets contained, for the time being (returned 
upon their release), and ruthlessly locked up in a dark 
cell, with nothing inside but themselves, the four walls^ 
the floor^ and the ceiling. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. Igl 

It was about ten o^clock when they were locked up. 
For a few minutes after each was busy with his thoughts, 
and neither spoke to the other a word. Rev. Houston, 
being a large, heavy man, from the long walk, about 
a mile, felt tired, and sat down upon the floor ; Simms, 
being small of stature and light of frame, and under 
mental excitement, stood up, leaning against the wall 
of their prison. The silence was broken by Pastor 
Houston, who cleared his throat, and at once commenced 
to sing in a soft, clear voice Dr. Watts's beautiful 
hymn of ^* God's purpose of mercy, — " 

*' The Lord on high proclaims 
His Godhead from his throne ; 
Mercy and Justice are the names 
By which he will be known. 

" Ye dying souls that sit 
In darkness and distress, 
Look from the borders of the pit 
To his recovering grace. 

** Sinners shall hear the sound ; 

Their thankful tongues shall own 
Their righteousness and strength are found 
In thee, O Lord, alone. 

'' In thee shall Israel trust, 

And see their guilt forgiven ; 
Thou wilt pronounce the sinners just, 
And take the saints to heaven." 

9 



182 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

He sang every stanza as correctly in that dark room 
as if he were in his pulpit with the gaslight on the 
book. His companion in imprisonment, being moved 
by this cheering act of faith and resignation, joined in 
as he began the second stanza, and they thus sang 
together to the end. As if the arch-enemy would 
mock them, a most ludicrous incident occurred while 
they were singing. The guard outside, in the passage- 
way to the cells, a son of the Emerald Isle (or, in 
other words an Irishman), exclaimed gruffly, in his 
native brogue, *^ Niver moind; Mayyer Screeven will 
give yees the divU in the morning;^' and both the 
singers simultaneously replied, "No, he won't." It 
was not more than about twenty minutes after when, 
as guard and door-keeper, he received the order at the 
outer door, " Bring out Houston and Simms.'* 

Like the early churches of the Apostles, our old 
Bryan was now wide awake in this the height of the 
storm, and active for the deliverance of these brethren 
and leaders. Directed by the God of Tieaven, they 
quickly found human succor. When the two prisoners 
came into the police-office again, whence they were sent 
not over half an hour before, the appearance of things 
was very different. The officer in charge was more 
pleasant and polite, and some three or four deacons, 
with Mr. Charles Ash, a citizen of property and 
prominence, and P. W. Mildrim, Esq., a young lawyer, 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 183 

were all pleasantly chatting together over the inci- 
dents of the night. As the officer handed each of us 
an envelope^ he requested us to examine its contents, 
and see if they were as when delivered to him. 
Being assured that they were, we were told that we 
were at liberty to depart then, and to appear again 
at ten o'clock in the morning, to answer to the 
charge in the mayor's court. Bonds had been given 
by those . kind gentlemen, both of whom are, under 
the smiles of kind Heaven, living and prospering at 
the time of this writing. 

"When they appeared on the streets they were greeted 
by the church members with joy ; a large number of 
the sisters, brethren, and some other friends, were at 
the portal of the prison, though it was still raining, 
when they delivered the prisoners, and their friends 
shortly afterwards returned to their homes, rejoicing 
in the midst of their trials at what God had done. 

They appeared before his Honor, the mayor, in the 
morning, and he discharged them on the same ground 
upon which he previously had Brother Green, for want 
of jurisdiction in the case. But, not to be outdone, 
the brother got his case before the grand jury of the 
Superior Court, which returned a true bill against 
Simms and Houston for misdemeanor. 

The officers in behalf of the church and through 
counsel petitioned the court to dissolve the injunction 



184 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

granted Harris^ showing the extent of the injury he 
was doing the churchy and ten days after the trial in 
the mayor's court the following writ was granted : 

"Superior Court, Chatham County. 

"Alexander Harris, complainant, and Ulysses S. 
Houston, et aL, defendants. Temporary injunction 
issued March 14, 1872. 

" It Being Made To Appear, That The Complainant, 
Alexander Harris, although elected for one year pastor 
of the First Bryan Baptist Church, was a member of 
said church, and as such is under the dealings of the 
church, and by virtue of the Sovereignty of Baptist 
churches, the church has the power to deal with him in 
their own way; And it further appearing that his pastoral 
year for which he was elected has expired or nearly so, 
it is ordered that the said injunction be dissolved. 

" Witness my hand and official signature this 1st 

April, A.D. 1872. 

"W. Schley, 

" Judge Supreme Court Eastern Circuit of Georgia. 

" A true extract from the minutes, 

this first day of April, a.d. 1872. [l.s.] 

" Z. N. Winkler. 
" Deputy Clerk, Superior Court 
of Chatham County, Georgia""^ 

This shut Mr. Harris out finally, and he has never 
returned ; and the " church felt in her body that she 
was healed of the plague.'^ 

^  I —— —■■ — ■■■^  ,. — - .1  ■■-  I ■,- — -. - ^   ^^^^^ 11 I mm ^ 

* True copy of the writ. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 185 



CHAPTER XL 

The church again peaceably met in her regular con- 
ference April 18, 1872. All her regular meetings for 
prayer and preaching had been resumed. Deacon 
Rivers made report of his mission of reconciliation, 
for which he was appointed, that the only one that 
he could persuade was his aged colleague upon the 
deacon's staff. Brother Grant Simpson, who was present. 
After some explanations relative to his public acts and 
present feelings, he was fully restored to his former 
privileges and position. A committee was appointed 
at this meeting to draft resolutions relative to the 
action of the members revolting against the authority 
of the church and report them at the next conference, 
which they did on the 16th of May following: 

" Your committee, appointed to draft suitable resolu- 
tions respecting the disorderly members, submit the 
following preamble and resolutions : 

" Whereas, The following-named persons, Brothers 
Peter Campbell, William Washington, Major Cannorn, 
John Jackson, David Slea, Andrew Law, Augustus 
Grampus, Hezekiah Givens, James Lewis, John Long- 
wood, Amos McFall, Daniel Green, Wm. Fergerson, 
Lisbon Bing, Charles Cumming, Joseph Stiles, Joseph 



186 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Verderee, Henry Hamilton, James Spalding, and Sis- 
ters Sarah Harrison, Ann Stiles, Sarah Odingsell, 
Mary Irving, Mary Savoy, Jane Irving, Sally Howell, 
Elsey Moter, Eliza Washington, Julia Cooper, Mary 
Verderee, Sarah Ferriby, Lizzie Mitchel, Francis Har- 
ris, Mary Anderson, Mira Webb, Anna Bullock, Abi- 
gail Small, Blocker, Blocker, Dolly Moran, 

Virginia Cannorn, Rebecca Williams, Lewis, 

Nelly Johnson, C. McQuiney, having openly rebelled 
against the sovereign power of the church ; and have 
smuggled away the church property, and setting them- 
selves up as a church, and are receiving and commu- 
ning with the excluded members of this church contrary 
to her rules and the gospel. 

" And whereas, Repeated invitations have been ex- 
tended them to return to the fellowship and authority 
of the church, and they have not done so, but continue 
to ignore the rights of the church. Now, therefore, be it 

" Resolved, By the authority of the same, that their 
actions are hereby condemned, and each and every one 
of them are hereby expelled. 

" Resolved, That this church is in no way opposed 
to the largest liberty of its members consistent with 
the gospel of Christ and the long practical experience 
in the discipline and customs of the Baptist denomina- 
tion, and believe that any member or members, for good 
and sufiBcient reasons first being given to the church, 
may withdraw their membership. 

'^Resolved, That we earnestly condemn and depre- 
cate the action of any Baptist church receiving the 
expelled members of another Baptist church into their 






> J 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 187 

fellowship, and hold union and communion with them, 
and the fact that the pastor of the First African 
Baptist Church of this city inviting an expelled mem- 
ber of this church to preach in his pulpit and oflSciate 
in said church meet the unqualified condemnation of 
this church, and is productive of disunion among the 
churches of our Association, contemptuous of our 
Baptist discipline, and perversive of the Christian re- 
ligion. 

Resolved, That these resolutions be spread upon the 
minutes of this church, and a copy be sent through our 
delegates to the Zion Baptist Association when they 
shall again convene. 

** Signed, 

" Wm. Rivers, 

" H. Rahn, 

" E. Wicks, Chairman.'^ 



The delegates to the Association this year (1872) 
were : Rev. U. L. Houston, Brethren Q. Frazer, W. 
Rivers, W. Green, and E. Wicks : reported baptized, 
29 ; by letter, 4 ; restored, 25 ; dismissed by letter to 
organize a church, 268 ; membership, 337. It will be 
remembered that the Association adjourned to meet 
with the Darien Baptist Church, and that Brother A. 
Harris was to preach the introductory sermon, with 
Rev. C. F. Lawton as alternate. Both were present 
when the session met. Mr. Harris's career since the 
last session was most notoriously known by nearly all 



188 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the del^ates present. He went into the pulpit and 
attempted to preach, notwithstanding he well knew the 
church's del^ates would protest, as he was an expelled 
member of this church. The brethren who came ^o 
the Association prepared to sustain him insisted that, as 
the appointment was made before these occurrences, he 
was entitled to preach, and that the protest be made after 
organization. This was demurred against, and the 
trouble of the church now became transferred to the 
Association! After spending the whole morning dis- 
cussing the matter, the church was sustained against 
Brother Harris and his followers, for it seems they 
were fully under his control, and the introductory 
sermon was dispensed with. The Association then 
proceeded to the business of organization, and read 
letters up to adjournment in the evening. On the 
morning of the second day occurred a stormy session 
during the election for officers; but it resulted in a 
complete victory for right and justice. The Moderator 
for the last six years was renominated by Mr. Harris, 
and the pastor of this church was nominated by 
Brother Simms, now pastor of the Zion Baptist Church 
of Liberty County. The vote as reported by the 
tellers was : Rev. A. Bourke, 31 ; Rev. U. L. Hous- 
ton, 41 ; and the church was thus vindicated. Subse- 
quently the committee on the state of churches reported 
relative to this church as follows : " We find that two 



I 



TN NORTH AMERICA. 189 

sets of letters were sent to the Association, two sets of 
delegates representing the First Bryan Baptist Church 
of Savannah, Georgia, complaining against each other, 
and one set of letters mention a council of ministers 
called to investigate the matter, and gave names of only 
a portion of the council, and fails to report the decision 
of that council, and the other letter makes no mention 
of a council.* 

A portion of this report was stricken out by the 
Association, and the following substitute, by Rev. Da- 
vid Watters, was adopted in its stead : 

" That each church is thejudge of its own members, 
and we endorse the action of the First Bryan Baptist 
Church in the case of Mr. Harris and others ; yet, as 
an advisory body, we hereby counsel them to return to 
the First Bryan Baptist Church, Rev. U. L. Houston, 
pastor, and be reconciled." 

The course of Brother Harris was so notoriously 
wrong, unchristian-like, and inconsistent as a Baptist, 
that the brethren who defended it could only do so 
from personal motives or prejudicial feelings, and not 
for the glory of God and the interest of our denomi- 
national cause ; and it is due the truth of history to say, 
as much as we regret it, that at that particular period 

* Copied from the minutes of the Association, 1872, page 27, 
paragraph b. 

9* 



190 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

in our history mach of that feeling of prejudice and 
jealousy prevailed, — Campbell against Simms, Boles 
against Houston^ each of whom had influence in dif- 
ferent spheres. Campbell and Boles were men very 
popular with the white citizens of Savannah, and 
thought it was best that those in the ministry should 
not meddle with politics, and were much influenced in 
their views by the opinions of the white brethren. 
Houston and Simms, younger and feeling more inde- 
pendent, felt it their duty to enter that arena, as it 
was at the time a death-struggle for equality of rights 
before the law. Both were, no doubt, ambitious. 
Again, Boles was a member of this church and a 
very useful man in doing much to build her up, and 
there is no doubt that he aspired as a son to be the 
pastor. The church chose the young man, Houston, 
and not the elder man, Boles. He became offended, 
left this church with a letter, which the church very 
reluctantly gave him, and joined the First African 
Church, of which Rev. Campbell was pastor, leaving 
behind him a feeling of deep regret and the seeds of " 
dissension with his friends in his old mother church, 
of course ; and he ever after strove to detract from her 
and draw away her country membership. 

Simms had become early in life a member of the 
First African Church, under Dr. Marshall, and was 
Brother Campbell's constant help at the time of his i 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 191 

building the present house of worship. He had been 
his clerk, deacon, master-builder, and intimate coun- 
sellor, until the church insisted upon setting him 
apart for the ministry, against the objections of the 
pastor. Jealousy ensued, and their close relations 
ceased. The civil war was raging and the younger 
colored men of the city were being pressed into service 
upon the Confederate works around the city. This 
was so repugnant to Simms that he left the South, 
went to Boston, Massachusetts, and while preaching 
there as a licentiate from the First African Church of 
Savannah, the brethren in Boston proposed to ordain 
him, to be prepared for the work soon to be begun at 
the close of this great conflict, as now our people were 
free. So, in April, 1864, in the Twelfth Baptist 
Church a presbytery of five colored Baptist ministers 
— Grimes, of the Twelfth; Raymond, of the Second 

• 

Baptist of New York ; White, of Joy Street Church, 
Boston ; Thomson, a missionary of Boston ; and Ran- 
dolph, of Charlestown, Massachusetts — ordained him 
as an evangelist of the gospel. When he returned to 
Savannah, Rev. Mr. Campbell took this as a pretext 
for crippling his influence with the members of his 
church, claiming that it was an infraction of his 
church's rights to allow ordination by another church 
under whose watch-care he was, and that it showed 
contempt for him. The Twelfth Baptist Church 



192 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

wrote a letter disclaiming any intention of infringing 
upon the rights of her sister church in the. South, and 
stating that what they had done was with the view of 
facilitating missionary work down here solely as a war 
measure. This letter was suppressed by the pastor, and 
the church, not receiving the information, refused to 
recognize the ordination ; and having a large congre- 
gation spread far around the country, thus stopped the 
ministerial work of Simms, who was a missionary of 
the American Baptist Home Mission Society, laboring 
on the Savannah Kiver plantations. 

Mr. Simms, being crippled by his pastor and church 
in his religious labors, turned very naturally to where 
at this time he was much needed, — the political field. 
He went, as Rev. Houston did, to the legislature 
from the largest populated county in the State, — i.e., 
Chatham. What little distinction he won in that 
body and upon the hustings increased the jealousy of 
Brother Campbell ; seeing this, and his friend and sym- 
pathizer, Houston, in trouble, partly through his per- 
suasion in getting him into politics, he took his letter 
from the First African and went to the First Bryan 
Churdi. Thus it will be seen how the seeds from 
which the roots of bitterness sprang created these dis- 
sensions. Brother Harris, the better to help his am- 
bitious personal ends, took advantage of the feeling 
which he was well aware existed between these four 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 193 

brethren before mentioned, they having much influ- 
ence with our elder ministers outside of the city 
among whom they had been laboring for years in 
slavery times, having since ordained some of them, 
and being looked up to as their advisors in the afikirs 
of their people. Campbell and Boles had a following 
that Harris designed to and subsequently did use for 
his advancement,* without which his religious and 
ministerial career might have ended with this session 
of the Zion Baptist Association. As we now look at 
the then division, Campbell and Boles, Houston and 
Simms, with Harris in the breach, striving for place 
and power to appease a morbid ambition with personal 
unpopularity, and taking hold upon these two elders 
with a large constituency and small mental calibre, so 
well suited to his purpose, we have the elements out 
of which grew, soon after adjournment, the " Mount 
Olive Association/^ from which much good has come, 
we know, which is still existing, and which may do 
much more by the overruling power of God. Noth- 
ing here written is intended to disparage that Associ- 
ation in any sense. But the controlling power of the 
Zion Baptist Association, for seven years in the hands 
of these elders, was lost to them at this session ; and 
seeing younger men, whom they had unwisely en- 
deavored to keep down, if not to destroy, now in the 
ascendency, their power taken away, as evidenced in 



194 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the election of Houston, and their measures voted 
down, they were guided by the strong, insidious, wil- 
ful mind of Brother Harris, and resolved to separate 
from the old Association. 

It is really true that all who opposed the wishes of 
those elder brethren respected them highly, yea, some 
loved them, and r^retted the state of things that ex- 
isted; but seeing they were in the wrong, and that 
their* action would stop the progress of our cause, op- 
posed them, and from that day to their death, so far 
as our Baptist field is concerned, their glory departed ; 
and, as they could no longer rule, they seceded — some 
six -churches — and founded the Mount Olive Associa- 
tion. That was all they did. They did it for the bene- 
fit, of Brother Harris; and one by one they soon passed 
from earth to heaven, leaving it to him, now the only 
survivor of that day. And now, as we must close up 
the historical part of Brother Harris's connection with 
the church, — he having from this associational meet- 
ing no connection with it, — it is due to this history to 
say that it is solely with the public acts we deal ; in 
private life, had we to make criticisms, we could show 
many excellent qualities of this our. brother; and we 
write as fully as we do for the benefit of those to come 
after us, that when they examine into and review our 
work and way, they may better avoid the mistakes we 
made, which if we had not we might have accomplished 



IN NORTH AMERICA. I95 

SO much more. No doubt it was a mistake for Hous- 
ton and Simms to dabble in politics, in which there is 
much evil, yet it may have been necessary, and if so 
it was at the time with them ; but it may be in the 
case of Mr. Houston the original evil that suggested 
the first wrong thought and act in Mr. Harris, and led 
on a train of circumstances in one direction and then 
in another that culminated in thq whole of these diffi- 
culties shown in this history. Looking at it from this 
point, none of the actors can be clear from blame, if 
a small cause may produce a large effect, — and a cause 
is responsible for its effects, — though two wrongs are 
never known to make a right. But with these wrongs 
and mistakes we may see the hand of an overruling 
Providence, and that his commands in his revealed 
will to us are the best possible good for man ; yet what 
he permits he is also able to overrule for good to his 
glory. Therefore, had Houston not gone to Atlanta 
for two years, Harris might have always remained a 
deacon of the church to the end, as Mr. Johnson has 
done; had Simms not gone to Boston and been or- 
dained, he might have remained with the First Afri- 
can Church, in harmony with Brother Campbell, who 
would never have had cause to oppose Houston because 
he sheltered Simms; had Campbell and Boles not 
aided Harris in his extremity in the Association, him- 
self, as a pastor, his present little church might not 



196 TSE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

have striven to organize and perform the many ser- 
vices to the cause of charity that they are known to 
have accomplished^ distinctively more than any other 
in proportion to their numbers and resources. 

The Georgia Infirmary owes much to him and his 
church. His inventive genius served him constantly 
as he has ripened in age and experience^ some bitter^ 
it is true ; yet it has given him more real power for the 
good which he is so capable of doing; and with an 
education in the letters and occult sciences to light up 
that genii^S; his energy and indomitable will would 
have made him superior by far to any of the group of 
men with whom he had been reared and with whom he 
acted in the affairs of life. The cause of the separation 
and the wounds made there by him have long been 
removed and healed, and the Church has as much 
claim upon him and his church and the same Jove 
that a mother would feel for a wayward daughter, 
who at last turned out well and proved creditable 
to the house from which she sprang. Does not all 
this show the overruling power of God, whose love 
and grace are sufficient for us? These views will 
lighten the burden of age to all of the actors of the 
day of which we now write, though there are very 
few that still remain ; but they are not written for 
them, but for those that shall succeed us. It must 
not be inferred either that what has been acoom- 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 197 

plished was not by some self-sacrifice on the part 
of all these brethren, and, even in the height of 
these disagreeable times, there were always a middle 
and conservative class of brethren who neutralized 
much of the evil tendencies, and at last brought about 
peace and harmony. Houston's consoling, words and 
prayers in the closing hours of Rev. Brother Boles's 
life, — Simms's doing the same services for Rev. William 
J. Campbell, — standing by his bed, closing his eyes in 
death, and both Houston and Simms officiating at his 
funeral from this old church (and not the one he 
built), the old mother Bryan church, going first in a 
body to her wayward yet loved daughter (Bryan church) 
to break bread in spiritual communion with her ; and 
as she entered the sanctuary, Houston and Harris met 
in the embrace of each other. All hearts full of peace, 
all eyes bathed in tears, they feast with their Lord and 
former pastor at the table, with their own pastor by 
his side ; they sing together thanksgiving and praise, 
and take the parting hand of fellowship which had 
once been withheld, never to be severed, we trust, 
again. Surely, then, we see that his grace is sufficient, 
his ruling providence is as wise as it is good, and thus, 
like David of old, we are made to exclaim of our 
God, through Christ, " He is good, and his mercies 
endureth for ever." 

In 1873 the church was represented by the pastor 



198 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

alone, who also was pastor of and represented the 
branch organized at Ogeechee. This church baptized 
155; received by letter, 16; restored, 16; and re- 
ported a membership of 537, — ^a gain of 195 for the 
year. Her trials being over, she was blessed with an 
outpouring of the Spirit and the ingathering of souls ; 
peace and great harmony prevailed now in every way. 
The deacons were Brethren Grant Simpson, William 
Rivers, William Green, and Edward Wicks of the old 
staff; in September, 1871, during the troubles, there 
were added Brethren Amos Denslow, Polado Jackson, 
and J. B. Lewis; and at the regular conference of 
February 7 of this year. Brethren H. R. Rahn and 
Hazzard McPherson were chosen and set apart on 
trial. It has always been the custom of the church 
to put her deacons on some months' trial before or- 
daining them. Now that she had put on trial these 
newly selected, on the 28th of April four brethren 
who had been on trial some length of time, namely. 
Brethren Rivers, Lewis, Jackson, and Denslow, were 
ordained. It was at the conference held this month 
that the church adopted the new constitution, cove- 
nant, and by-laws reported from a committee ap- 
pointed to draft them, consisting of Brethren J. M. 
Simms, E. Wicks, and H. R. Rahn, and a resolution 
was passed to have the same printed in pamphlet form, 
with a roll of the members therein, for distribution. 






IN NORTH AMERICA, 199 

It was in this year that the proposition was made 
by some of the brethren to take down the old church- 
building, erected by Mr. Bryan in 1794-95. The 
out-building or praise-house, as it is generally called, 
built upon the Gibbons lot before mentioned, and rolled 
upon this ground in 1793, became dilapidated, and a 
new building, twenty-five by forty feet, was erected in 
its stead in 1865, on the southern part of the lot. 
This main edifice was much out of repair ; besides, all 
felt it had beeo desecrated by the troubles of 1871, 
when the police entered it and fired off their pistols. 
And now it was proposed to take it down and erect a 
brick structure as a monument to the memory of 
Father Bryan, and as a token of their gratitude to 
God for their redemption from moral as well as spirit- 
ual bondage. On the 10th of August, 1873, a mass- 
meeting of the members and of the friends of the 
church was called. The pastor. Rev. Mr. Houston, 
was called to the chair, and the subject of taking 
down and erecting was fully discussed, and it was re- 
solved that, if the church would consent to tear down 
the precious old structure, they would, as a committee 
of the whole, see that another built of brick would 
replace it, upon the plans selected by the church. 
Brother Edward Wright suggesting that, in so import- 
ant an affair, we should first seek counsel and direc- 
tion from Almighty God,' the pastor therefore led in a 



200 TBE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

fervent, feeling prayer. Then, as an earnest of the 
pledge^ a spontaneous collection of three hundred and 
fourteen dollars and twelve cents cash was raised, with 
promises of much more in subscriptions. Committees 
on finance, on materials, and on building were ap- 
pointed, ready to act when the church gave their con- 
sent, and when their endorsement was procured. 

The committees as appointed were : 

On Finance. — J. M. Simms, chairman, George B. 
Lewis, D. Waiters, Edward Wicks/ Henry Rahn, 
Wade Collins, Joseph Stiles, Frdnk Jones, Isaac 
Righton. 

On Building, — U. L. Houston^ chairman, William 
Rivers, Charles H. Price, Polado Jackson, John Sim- 
mers. 

On Materials. — John Jackson, chairman. 

The proposition was submitted to the conference of 
August 18, 1873, and was unanimously accepted, and 
the chairman of the building committee was em- 
powered to procure a draft of a plan and submit the 
same to the church forthwith. On the 14th of Sep- 
tember the draft of a plan made by civil engineer and 
city surveyor John B. Howard, of Savannah, free of 
charge, was exhibited to the members of the church, 
who authorized the taking down of the old building 
which had sheltered them, and in which so many of our 
fathers and mothers had gathered to worship God, to 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 201 

sympathize with and to encourage each other^ remember- 
ing the prayers made^ the tears shed, the sins confessed 
and pardon found, the sweet communion, solemn and 
joyful songs of prayer and praise, the numberless souls 
born of God, renewed in Christ, that had marched 
from her doors to the river and been baptized, and 
then in heaven, while many were yet here on earth. 
With these reflections, while the consent was given 
to remove this ancient landmark of our civilization 
and Christianity, once the pride and glory of our an- 
cestors, the church was loth to part with it, and as an 
evidence of her devotion to its memory had the old 
temple photographed on the afternoon of Monday, the 
29th, the pastor, with the new building-plan, standing 
at the door, surrounded by members and friends out- 
side, and the aged mother of the church, Sarah Wal- 
lace, beside the gate. The copies of this photograph 
sold readily to the members and friends at one dollar 
each, over a hundred being taken and sold for the 
benefit of the building fund. 

The church had communed for the last time in the 
dear old building on the last Sabbath, or 28th of Sep- 
tember, and on Wednesday morning, the 1st of October, 
the brethren who volunteered to tear it down com- 
menced the work, such of the old planks and timbers 
as were found in a good state of preservation being 
reserved for use in minor places in the new building. 



202 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Sach were the zeal and progress of the work at the 
beginning that on the afternoon of the 13th of Oc- 
tober the corner-stone of the new building was laid. 
The stone and the copper box enclosed therein were paid 
for and presented by the Sabbath-school, at a cost of 
twenty-two dollars. The stone was laid with imposing 
ceremoniesJby the members of the Grand Lodge of Col- 
ored Masons in the State of Georgia, attended by two 
subordinate lodges, — Eureka, No. 1, and John T. Hil- 
ton, No. 2. Grand Master Lewis B. Tormer officiated, 
assisted by Deputy Grand Master John H. Devoux (a 
grandson of one of the former pastors) and Grand Sec- 
retary Albert Jackson. They marched from their hall, 
at the corner of Bay and Lincoln Streets, in regalia and 
with their emblems, to the church grounds, where was 
assembled a very large congregation of both white and 
colored citizens. An appropriate ode was sung by the 
order, an address was delivered by Rev. Henry M. 
Turner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, now 
a bishop, suitable and impressive prayer was offered by 
Rev. James Meriles Simms, a short statement of the 
early history of the church was given by the pastor for 
deposit in the box, with copies of the city press, the 
State constitution, and the names of the State officers, 
also the names of the mayor and city council ; many 
coins and small curiosities of jewelry worn by the 
old members; also pieces of old coin which had 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 203 

b«en foand on pulling down the old building, and 
which had been deposited in the corner-stone at its 
erection, were placed again in the new box. The 
cover of the box was soldered on, and the stone was 
then placed in its position according to the ancient 
customs of the Free and Accepted Masons. A dox- 
ology was sung, the benediction was pronounced by 
the pastor, and the large but orderly assemblage quietly 
dispersed. The day was bright and the afternoon as 
balmy as that of an autumn day could be. 

In 1874 the delegates were Rev. U. L. Houston, 
Wm. Rivers, A. Denslow, P. Jackson, and E. Wicks ; 
baptized, 15 ; membership, 550. 

In 1875, Rev. IT. L. Houston, G. B. Lewis, O. 
Foster, A. Denslow, E. Wicks, H. R. Rahn, J. M. 
Simms, and W. Rivers; baptized, 33; membership, 
686. 

In 1876, Rev. U. L. Houston, Wicks, and Jackson ; 
baptized, 34 ; membership, 630. 

In 1877, Rev. U. L. Houston, Foster, Wicks, 
Lewis, and Rahn; baptized, 98; membership, 715. 

In 1878, Rev. U, L. Houston, Lewis and Wicks; 
baptized, 24; membership, 730. 

In 1879, Rev. U. L. Houston, Simms, and Wicks; 
restored, 36; baptized, 129; membership, 909. 

In 1880, Rev. U. L. Houston, Rahn, Wicks, and 
Simms ; baptized, 36 ; membership, 944. 



204 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

In 1881, Rev. U. L. Houston, Rahn, and Rivers; 
baptized, 10 ; membership, 925. 

In 1882, Rev. U. L. Houston and Rivers ; restored, 
30; baptized, 153; membership, 1114. 

In 1883, Rev. U. L. Houston, Simms, Wicks, Rahn, 
Rivers, Denslow, and Bateman ; baptized, 76 ; member- 
ship, 1172. 

In 1884, Rev. U. L. Houston, Rahn, Ranier, and 
S. D. Green; baptized, 51 ; membership, 1231. 

In 1885, Rev. U. L. Houston, Wicks, Lewis, Jack- 
son, Denslow, Rahn, P. Jackson, Foster, Rivers, Green, 
Gadsden, and Renier; baptized, 147; membership, 
1450. 

In 1886, Rev. U. L. Houston, Rahn, Denslow, 
James, Bateman, and S. D. Green; baptized, 122; 
membership, 1512. 

In 1887, Rev. U. L. Houston, Denslow, Ranier, 
James, and Quarterman ; restored, 181 ; received by 
letter, 22 ; baptized, 322 ; membership, 2005. 

The great earthquake of this year brought in this 
large addition to the church. 



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IN NORTH AMERICA. 205 



CHAPTER XII. 

The work of rebuilding now went on, and was 
industriously pushed forward. The old building had 
been taken down, and the foundations of the new one 
were built up to a height of four feet within thirteen 
days. The work was done exclusively by colored 
mechanics and laborers, under the direction of a white 
architect, whose presence was seldom required. The 
city of Savannah has ever been noted for first-class 
colored mechanics, especially in house building. 

Materials were readily furnished on credit, as the 
law gives a lien on the property to secure their 
payment. Thus all needful articles were procured 
and the work continued rapidly onward. The church 
starting out with strong faith, large desires, and a small 
cash capital, the struggle to meet the requirements 
and make payments when due was great, and com- 
pelled her members and friends to bestir themselves, 
and taxed their efforts to the utmost capacity. Yet, the 
will to do being in them, they, by the help of God, 
found the way, and adopted many means for raising 
funds. We mention the following as an example : A 

short historical sketch was prepared by the chairman 

10 



206 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



of the finance oommittee, aooompanied by an appeal for 
aid^ which was printed and distributed to the citizens. 
Several of the best-known members and friends were 
then given books^ with the name of the church printed 
thereon, to canvass the city among their friends. 
As one set would come in and report their success, 
another would follow. Many of the societies of the 
city among our people also made donations from their 
treasuries, and nearly every member of the church 
contributed such amount as he or she was able. We 
have received from the clerk of the church the follow- 
ing itemized statement : 

SUBSCRIBEKS PAYING FIVE DOLLARS PER 

MONTH. 



IT. L.Houston $10.00 

Cato Jackson 29.00 

J. Julian 6.00 

T.Alston 2.00 

R. Dudley 6.00 

L. Rutlege 6.00 

Geo. Mack 10.00 

W. H. Royal 14.00 

S. Jones 9.00 

H.Cook 11.00 

Wm. Sheftall 16.00 

A. Barnard 1.00 

R. F. Williams 10.00 

Isaac Bacon 6.00 

H. R. Brown 16.00 



J. Bryant |4.00 

R. Wicks 18.00 

P. Johnson 26.00 

J. Ancrum 2.00 

C. Latson 34.00 

J. Candler 20.00 

H. E. Clark 19.00 

H. R. Rahn 17.00 

Robert flerb 6.00 

Mrs. J. A. Natall 6.00 

S. Jones 14.00 

A. T. Jackson 28.60 

James Real 82.00 

Polado Jackson... 12.00 

Pulaski Cooper 10.00 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 



207 



John Watson ^4.00 

Henrietta Houston 6.00 

Betsey Taylor 12.00 

Benjamin Bahn 24.50 

J. A. Bee 6.00 

Wm. Medsco 6.00 



W. H. Walker |10.00 

Franklin Smith 6.00 

James M. Simms 27.60 

Moses Ferrill. 16.00 

Wm. Carter 6.00 

Jack Holms 6.00 



SUBSCRIBEKS PAYING FOUR DOLLARS PER 

MONTH. 



Wade Collins |14.00 

March Roberts 6.00 



John Johnson , $7.76 



SUBSCRIBERS PAYING THREE DOLLARS PER 

MONTH. 



Elizabeth Edy $16.60 

Henrietta Houston 6.00 

Betsey Taylor 12.00 

Samuel Ryals 5.76 

H. Cooper 8.00 

Dolly Cooper 8.00 

Henry Gordon 2.00 



Henry Mongin $2.00 

Daniel Gadsden 28.00 

Benjamin Rahn 24.50 

Louisa Murry 5.50 

Isaac Quarterman 20.60 

David Watters.. 3.60 

Robert Harris 4.00 



SUBSCRIBERS PAYING TWO DOLLARS PER 

MONTH. 



D. Benjamin $21.00 

S. Baker 3.60 

Nancy Rahn 8.00 

Lizzie King 1.00 

Laura Small 2.00 

J. R. Allen 2.00 

Lizzie Noble 4.00 

Molly Rivers 7.00 

Celia Gardner 4.00 



Jane Burroughs $18.00 

Ellen Williams 4.00 

Nancy Pierce 3.00 

Melia Murry 13.00 

Louisa Parker 18.00 

Mary Cooper 2.00 

Sarah Mayes 12.00 

Julia Gibbs 17.00 

Julia Rahn 8.00 



208 ^J^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHVRCB 



Lewis Thomas $9.00 

Mary Ann Wicks 60 

Miley Jackson 8.60 

Silvia Eeid 2.00 

Charlotte Goodwin 26 

Stephen Riley 8.00 

Harriet Riley! 6.00 

Howard Williams 2.00 

Noble Gray 2.00 

Susan Houston 2.00 

Ellen Rahn 3.00 

Charlotte Dallas 2.00 

Mary Ann Roberts 2.00 

James Candler 2.00 

Peggy Porter 12.00 



Emma Tolbejt $4.00 

Oliver Foster , 8.00 

R. Stord 10.00 

G. Wright 7.60 

John Bruen 9.00 

Adam Sheftall 26 

Susan Gardner 2.00 

Sarah Sayers , 18.00 

Mariah Hargraves 8.00 

Eugenia Hooker 20.00 

Margaret Candler 10.00 

Francis Stard 8.60 

Edward Stevens 12.00 

J. L. James 2.00 

By Cash 2.30 



SUBSCRIBERS PAYING ONE DOLLAR PER 

MONTH. 



Sarah Wallace $6.00 

Sarah Wadley 2.60 

Ellen Houston 1.00 

Rebecca Russel 3.00 

Molly Rahn 9.00 

Rebecca Burroughs 8.00 

Harriet Yandross 1.00 

Antoine Genelatt 2.00 

M. Grate 1.00 

Rebecca Golden. 12.00 

Ellen Ancrum 4.00 

Tama Thomas 10.00 

Laura Dudley 6.00 

Elizabeth Williams 3.66 

Rebecca Haywood 4.00 



Addel Williams $2.00 

Ana James 1.00 

Jane Naylor 6.86 

Margaret Denslow 1.60 

Lucy Price 11.00 

Lizzie Haywood 3.60 

Martha A. Burroughs... 1.00 

Francis Erwin 4.60 

Dolly Houston 8.00 

C. Bullock 4.00 

Elizabeth Edy 1.00 

Sarah Goldsmith 4.00 

Juber Williams 2.00 

Charlotte Cook 4.00 

Mary Singleton ^ 8.00 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 



209 



Dolly Scott 

Diana Sneed 

Bose Harley 

Hatriet Quarterman 

Mahale Miller 

Martha Simpson 

Lucinda Williams... 

Bachel Daniel 

Harriet Butler 

Elizabeth Williams. 

Grace Hicks 

Jane Sneed 

P. Johnson 

Eve Watters 

Lavinia Law 

Ellen Candler 

Julia Moore. 

Judy Winn 

Martha Prentice 

Alice Fergueson 

Betsey C^chman.... 

Isabella Burns 

Hannah Davis 

Eliza Crawford , 

Charlotte Turner 

Dolly Hampton , 

Dora Drayton 

Mahale Francis 

Abby Thomas , 

Anna Golden 

S. Jefferson 

Cooper 

Cloe Powell 



$2.00 
.50 
2.00 
COO 
4.00 
4.50 
6.00 
5.00 
1.00 
6.00 
2.00 
5.65 
1.00 
8.00 
3.50 
4.00 
2.00 
4.50 
8.75 
4.00 
3.75 
11.50 
10.00 
5.00 
2.00 
6.00 
.50 
4.50 
6.00 
3.00 
1.00 
2.00 
9.75 



Minnie Hooker $10.00 

Sally Anderson 2.00 

Lydia Benjamin 8.00 

Fanny Brown 1.00 

Polly Benje 11.00 

Bhoda Reed i 8.00 

Ana C. Floyd 7.00 

Mary Lewis 8.00 

By Cash 1.60 

Eve Reed 6.00 

Dora Pooler 9.00 

Rosa Goodwin 8.00 

Kancy Hamilton 4.00 

Minty Coachman 6.85 

Hettie Cooper 1.00 

I. Brown 1.00 

Sarah Logan 10.00 

Delia Burns 1.00 

Sibby Gibbs 18.00 

Hetty Brown 6.00 

Charity Jackson 6.00 

Margaret Smith 8.00 

Molly Harris 8.00 

Mariah Glen 1.00 

Florence A. Lewis 1.00 

Frances Mosman 1.00 

Judy C. White 1.00 

Rose Adams 4.00 

Tena O'Neal 1.00 

Delia Grant 1.00 

J. A. Wicks 1.60 

C. Logan 2.00 

Sarah Johnson..... 1.26 



210 'I'BE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



Susan Bryant |10.00 

Julia Butler 2.50 

L. W. Cooper 2.00 

Georgiana Stiles 50 

Mariah Johnson 2.00 

A. Watson 1.00 

Anette Gibbons 5.00 

Amelia Morell 2.00 

Agie McDane 2.00 

Jane Perkins 5.00 

P. Johnson 4.00 

Rebecca Young 1 .00 

Harriet V. Calhoun 1.00 

Selena Read 6.60 

M. Norman 7.00 

Patsey Barnard 1.50 

Carrie Jackson 1.00 

Martha Thompson 4.40 

Sinda Hawkins 12.00 

Fanny Simpson 1.00 

Mary E. Dean 2.00 

Mary Gadsden 8.00 

Mary Morten 2.00 

Betty Royal 2.00 

Sue Gardner 2.00 

Virginia Williams 1.00 

C. P. Logans 1.00 

Fanny Smith.. 1.00 

Betty Butler 1.15 

Mary Redding 1 00 

Emma Harris 9.75 

Sarah Gardner 1.50 

Adaline Williams 8.00 



Francis Jackson., 

Silvia Smith 

Mary Fergurson. 
Grace Jackson.... 

Mary Taylor 

Phoebe Smith 

Juno Fry 

Susan Simms 

Edward Ferebe... 



John Armstrong 

J. S. Habersham 

Master Thomas Ferebe. 

D. Miller 

E. A. Stiles 

S. Grant 

Samuel Manning 

F. B. Gadsden 

R. D. Bivens 

James Bithford 

Charles Frances 

Isaiah McCall .!.. 

Henry Magett 

Isaac Reed 

Benjamin Henry 

Edward Gass 

Isaac Henly 

Robert Black 

Benjamin Cooper 

Eugene Lewis 

Johnson Bick 

Sampson Whitfield 

Henry Yance 

Syrus Allen « 



$2.00 
6.00 
3.00 
2.00 

10.00 
4.00 
3.00 
1.90 
2.00 
1.00 
1.00 
2.00 
7.50 
1.00 
1.50 
1.30 

10.00 
1.00 
2.00 
5.00 
2.00 
2.00 
3.00 
2.00 
1.00 
4.00 
3.00 
2.00 
1.00 

10.00 

2.00 

.50 

1.00 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 



211 



David Slee $1.00 

Willie Grant 60 

James I. Davis 1.00 

Isaac Eighton 6.00 

James Fletcher 1.00 

Joseph Brown 60 

Ellick Rivers 1.00 

James Alston 1.00 

By Cash 6.40 

H. McPherson 4.75 

Julius Maxwell 1.75 

T. 0. Jackson 1.00 

By Cash 2^10 

Andrew Naylor 1.00 

Johnson Grant 1.00 

Renty Butler 2.00 

S.Butler 25 

Lonon Mack 50 

Henry Holmes 50 

R. Smith 50 

James Young 1.25 



N. Green and Wife 

A. Mcintosh 

D. Lambert 

P. McPherson and Wife. 

C. Sebury 

R. Holmes 

Marion Roberts 

H. Golden 

Samuel Green 

J. Willet 

J. McClue 

From White Visitors... 

Cuffee Brown 

F. Jones 

S.Yates 

E. Williams 

Edward Green 

Simon Shelmon 

John Johnson 

J. Lewis 



(2.00 
4.20 
1.00 
1.85 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 
.50 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 
7.50 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 
5.00 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 



MONEY RECEIVED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES. 



St. Martin's Society 
(male), per K. S. 
Thomas, President.... $11.00 

Benevolent Sons of Sa- 
vannah, James Flem- 
ming. President, D. 
L. Yeomans, Secre- 
tary 25.00 

Nightingale Association , 
per Paul Reynolds, 
Secretary 10.00 



Wrestling Jacob Asso- 
ciation, John Jackson, 
President, E. Wicks, 
Secretary $25.00 

Female Progressive As- 
sociation, J. Jackson, 
President, Josephine 
Radcliff, Secretary.... 16.00 

Benevolent Sisters, Mrs. 
Sarah Box, President. 10.00 

Rising Daughters of 



212 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



Africa, Mrs. S. Box, 
President $6.00 

Ladies' Galatian So- 
ciety, Mrs. S. Box, 
President 70.00 

Connected with the Sec- 
ond Church, the La- 
dies' Christian Asso- 
ciation, Mrs. Margaret 
Millidie, President, 
Mr. Henry Feilds, Sec- 
retary 10.00 

From the Ogeechee Bap- 
tist Church, contrib- 
uted at sundry times. 60.00 

Collection from a ser- 
mon preached by this 
pastor at St. Philip's 
Church while under 
Rev. H. M. Turner... 60.00 

The Daughters of Light, 
Sister Dolly Jack- 
son, President, Nan- 
cy Pearce, Treasurer, 
Bev. H. B. Bahn, Sec- 
retary, for putting gas- 
pipes through the 
church 180.00 

And donated in cash 47.00 

Daughters of Light Club, 
for column branches. 34.00 

Daughters of Nehemiah, 
different times. Sister 



Dolly Jackson, Presi- 
dent 1128.00 

Sabbath School for lay- 
ing the corner-stone, 
Wm. Bivers, Superin- 
tendent 27.00 

And from Tableaux 6.17 

And roofing the build- 
ing 20.00 

From the Deacons' Ex- 
cursion to Beaufort, 
cash 230.40 

From Mrs. C. A. Price 
and other ladies, two 
suppers 30.49 

Bryan Christian Union 
Association 5.10 

Deacon P. Jackson's 
Stevedore Gang 14.00 

Rev. Q. Frazer's Isle of 
Hope (people's list}.*^. 16.00 

Sisters of Charity of this 
church 36.70 

Sister Mary Foster, from 
a supper 29.00 

From the Pastor's So- 
ciety 6.00 

Brother Gadsden, from 
Isle of Hope 7.22 

The Old Sisters' Associa- 
tion, to put in the 
pulpit window 36.00 

Bryan Mutual Aid So- 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 



213 



ciety, Fredrick Jones, 
President, William 
Golden, Treasurer, 
Frank Lawrence, Sec- 
retary $190.00 

From the captains of 
the " separate squads, 
who put lights and 
hlinds in ten windows, 
at $20.00 each window, 
aggregate 200.00 

The communion set hav- 
ing been stolen in 
the late division, the 
• wives of the deacons, 
by their united eflfbrts, 
in ten days replaced 
them with a new set, 
consisting of six bread- 
baskets, six cups, and 
three goblets, all of 
silver, at a cost of. 85.00 

A supper from sisters. 



Mrs. N. Fearce, mana- 
ger 112.50 

Sister Julia Costen, from 

a supper 23.00 

A sunflower festival, 
Mrs. Ellen Kahn, man- 
ager 48.15 

Sisters Eugenia Hooker 
and Dora Foaler, stone 
and inscription over 
the front door, at a 
cost of 15.00 

First Bryan Baptist 
Church Nickel Club, 
Sister Eugenia Hooker, 
President, Sister Dia- 
na Eivers, Secretary, 
for furnishing the 
pulpit 102.60 

Memorial Stone to the 
memory of Rev. A. 
Bryan, by the Nickel 
Club 25.00 



The foregoing is simply an approximation of the 
moneys secured in the several diflFerent ways suggested 
by the fertile brain of the pastor to the members who 
raised the means to build the church. While all were 
interested and impressed with the burden of this work, 
the greatest part of the responsibility devolved upon 
their under-shepherd of Christ, who fully proved 

10* * 



214 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

himself equal to the occasion ; and as a wise master- 
builder was always foremost in suggesting new 
methods for gathering necessary means as soon as those 
already utilized seemed unavailing^ and so the church, 
as it should, drew supplies from many sources, — 
churches, societies, civil and military organizations, in- 
dividuals, white and colored members of her own body, 
and of sister churches. They all, individually and col- 
lectively, contributed to her aid in this great work and 
oam(^ to her relief when compelled to contract debts ; 
for with all these several resources from which she 
drew, the means did not accumulate sufficiently to 
meet the demands, and, therefore, with much regret, 
the trustees were called upon to borrow money from 
several institutions and individuals to meet the pay- 
ment of bills when due, in order to save the credit of 
the church. 

The following is a statement of the amount bor- 
rowed and the sources from which it was obtained : 
From the Alabama State Life Insurance Company, 
$1000, at ten per cent, per annum ; from F. Harty, 
$600, at seven per cent, for ninety days; from the 
Chatham Mutual Loan Association, on twenty shares of 
stock purchased, $4000 ; from the Savannah Bank and 
Trust Company, $1000, at seven per cent, per annum ; 
all of which was paid up when due, according to their 
obligations. The church as a committee of the whole, 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 215 

with the pastor as chairman directing their actions, — 
and *at periods mortgaging his personal property for 
security, — met every debt. A committee of the church, 
comprising the pastor, deacons, and trustees, was 
appointed to make a thorough investigation of the 
receipts, disbursements, and indebtedness soon after the 
building was up and enclosed sufficient for temporary 
use, who made the following report : 

REPOET OP THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR SIX 
YEARS AND EIGHT MONTHS, ENDING DECEM- 
BER 28, 1879, ON THE FINANCIAL AFFAIRS OF 
THE FIRST BRYAN BAPTIST CHURCH. 

Savannah, April 80, 1880. 
To THE FiBST Bbtan Baptist Church : 

Deab Bbbthbkk, — Your committee of pastor, deacons, and 
trustees would beg leave to report, in conclusion : 

That our last report of progress showed that the cost 

of the building, so far as done, was $8,290.10 

The amount paid thereon 7,826.42 

The balance due upon the same 1463.68 

We have found, on further examination, that for the 
period of six years and eight months, — the time 
covered by your resolution appointing us,^-com- 
mencing with April 27, 1873, and closing with 
December 28, 1879, that in that time the whole 
amount of money received and disbursed by the 
officers of the church and the Finance and Build- 
ing Committees is, in total 16,612.89 

Contributions from all sources for the benefit of the 
church (principally by its members, but a con- 



216 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

siderable portion from a generous public, and by 
friends of tbe church, with private enterprises of 
some members and their friends, by excursions, 
from societies, from suppers, lectures, tableaux, 
picnics, concerts, and fairs) (1,026.86 

Then there is to be taken away from the aggregate 
also the amount borrowed from the Chatham Mu- 
tual Loan Association 1,884.50 

Actual cash received out of a call for 4,000.00 

The premium paid on this amount under rule 2,115.50 

Making a total from the two sources alone named, 
not directly money contributed by the church 2,911.36 

This leaves as the real amount contributed by the 

church 12,601.53 

Being an average of about for each year 2,200.00 

However, the largest portion of this amount was 
contributed by the church in the years 1873 and 
1874, — the active years of their building the new 
edifice, — and was used for that purpose principally, 
and the other expenses of the church, including the 
pastor's salary, in part. 

These moneys have been received and paid out by the 
following-named officers of the church, whose ac- 
counts have been audited by us, and found correct 
as far as was possible for us to ascertain the facts, 
the record in some instances being imperfect, some- 
what ; as, for instance, during the treasurership of 
our Brother Benslow, he being unable to record for 
himself his receipts and disbursements; yet there 
appears no doubt of his having really fulfilled his 
duty as faithfully as his abilities would make it 
possible. He received and paid from April, 1878, 
to December, 1876 8,587.29 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 217 

There was also received by Elder Simms from Sep- 
tember, 1878, to February, 1877, as the chairman of 

Finance Committee, and paid $6,856.26 

And by Deacon Bahn, as treasurer, from Decem- 
ber, 1876, to December, 1879, and paid 6,044.60 

All, or very nearly all, the money paid out for build- 
ing purposes has been paid under the order of the 
pastor, Elder Houston, as chairman of the Building 
Committee, except a very small portion, which was 
disbursed by him directly, paid by clerk or deacons, 
not having passed through the hands of the treasu- 
rer or the Finance Committee 74.74 

This makes up the full receipts and disbursements 16,612.89 

as has been accounted for by the respective officers 
of the church. 

From the whole or aggregate amount received there 
have been paid the pastor upon his salary, from 
May 4, 1873, to December 28, 1879 1,659.93 

Collected from the members, paid to the treasurer 
by the clerk, and paid to the pastor from the treasu- 
rer. What has been collected for each and every 
month of that time has been duly shown upon the 
records and admitted by the pastor ; there is this 
exception, that in the year 1878, by his agreement, 
he collected his salary himself directly from the 
members, and got for that year $209.05, which year 
the church was relieved from the then existing con- 
tract of paying the pastor fifty dollars per month, 
which would amount to six hundred dollars a year. 
Thus the amounts received each year and paid him 
as part only of his salary were, — 

For the year 1873, eight months 266.48 

" 1874, twelvemonths 310.81 



218 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

For the year 1875, twelve months 1249.99 

" 1876, twelvemonths 250.90 

" 1877, twelve months 91.97 

'« 1878, twelve months* 

" 1879, twelvemonths 416.04 

And from sundry collections as stated 74.74 

Making the total of all received 1,659.93 

By his contract of six hundred dollars per year, for 

five years and eight months, is 3,400.00 

Deducting then from this amount the above will 

leave a balance actually due him of. 1,740.07 

This is the actual showing from the books. 
There is, we also find, due to the Loan Association, of 
which we are members, a monthly back due since 

1878 of 250.00 

For which is paid each month as interest 2.80 

And since that time a further back due of 1879 120.00 

Being three months, making total back dues * 870.00 

On which is being paid each month as interest and 

fines 4.20 

(This amount of dues should be taken up, if possible, 
before any other after Mr. Walker's debt, to stop this 
further tax upon the resources of the church.) 
To recapitulate the whole by the foregoing statement 
and figures is, — 

Whole amount collected, six years eight months 16,512.89 

Paid for building purposes the same period 7,826.42 

Paid to pastor as past salary 1,659.93 

Paid for all other church purposes and dues to As- 
sociation ^ 6,026.54 

* There was nothing oollected to his aoconiit, but there was paid him 
from the treasury by Rahn $74.74, to be deducted from $1740.07. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 219 

And there are due on the building yet, as represented 1468.68 

Also to the pastor to January 1, 1880 1|740.07 

Also back dues to Loan Association 870.00 

This being exclusive of the monthly dues, thus 
making an actual indebtedness of the church, the 

most due the pastor 2,678.75 

From the somewhat unclerical manner of the accounts, which 
we have examined thoroughly, we ha'^e been very naturally de- 
tained in our report ; but we will plead for this delay that the 
most thorough investigation has been made of all these ac- 
counts, and as critical report made herein as was possible ; a'nd 
respectfully suggest that this report be made the basis of a 
financial ledger, in which shall be recorded separately each 
future monthly, quarterly, and yearly report, that in future the 
financial condition of the church may be more readily ascer- 
tained. And it is the bounden duty of the ofScers who have ex- 
clusively the secular affairs of the church in their keeping to see 
to this matter whenever a report is made, although it is the 
right of the church or any member to inquire into and insist 
that this be done, that the generations to come after us may 
know where to find the oldest church of our race and denomina- 
tion in this State. 

Most respectfully submitted, 

JAMES M. SIMMS, Chairman, 

david' WATTEKS, 
QUIVES FRAZEE, 

Board of Tntsieea, 

Appended. — In the account of Treasurer Eahn we find that 
in his account for three years, up to January 1, 1880, he paid out 
thirty-six dollars and fifty-five cents more than his receipts. 

JAMES M. SIMMS, 
Chai7*Tnan, 



220 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Since then thejr have oontinaed their efibrts op to 
the completion of the building as it now stands. 
The onter dimensions are: lengthy 75 feet; breadth, 
56 feet; height from the foundation to the peak of 
the roof, 45 feet; with a belfry above containing 
a bell. On the inside the distance from the floor 
to the ceiling is 26 feet; a spacious gallery occu- 
pies three sides, which, with its lower audience-room, 
gives a seating capacity of about 1500 persons. It 
cost, in round numbers, about $30,000, not including 
an organ, valued at $1350, — all paid for excepting the 
latter (now [1888] being placed in position), which will 
be when it is completed according to contract. 

The church in 1885 wrote a letter to the Missionary 
Baptist Convention of Greorgia, of which she is a con- 
stituent member, notifying them of her approaching 
centennial. The Convention, upon considering the 
subject, resolved to celebrate the planting of a Baptist 
church one hundred years coming (1888) with becom- 
ing ceremonies, and chose Savannah, where the church 
was constituted, as the place for the meeting. The 
church at a subsequent meeting of that body requested 
that their church should be the headquarters of the 
centennial committee on that occasion, and her monu- 
mental edifice built with the especial intention of com- 
memorating the fathers, and showing gratitude to God 
for her glorious deliverance from moral as well as 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 221 

spiritual bondage within this century, they were also 
requested to dedicate to his praise. And the Conven- 
tion which met at Brunswick, Georgia, in May, 1887, 
set apart a day in June, 1888, for that purpose, as the 
time best suited to the gathering of the large number 
of Baptists and their friends from over the State and 
country. While this seemed best to them under the 
existing circumstances of our people, the church also 
feeling unwilling that the date of the original organ- 
ization, so precious to her memory, should pass un- 
noticed, held a special service on the evening of Jan- 
uary 20, 1888, commemorative of that blessed event, 
and ordained Brethren J. L. James and J. H. Bate- 
man to the ministry, and Brethren Hoseaa Green, Ben- 
jamin H. Benier, and Daniel B. Gadsden as additional 
deacons of the church, after the following programme : 

1. Organ Prelude. By Pbofessob S. B. Morse. 

2. Invocatory Prayer. By Rev. J. D. Gibb. 

3. Thanksgiving Anthem. By the Choib. 

4. Heading Epitome of First Church History. By Bsy. J. M. 

SIMMS. 

6. Hymn hy the Congregation. Prom Rev. William Mob- 

BISON. 

6. Address to the Throne of Grace for Past Mercies. By Rey. 

RicHABD Webb. 

7. Special Remarks. From Revs. J. E. L. Holmes and Rich- 

ABD Webb. 

8. Anthem of Praise. By the Choib. 

9. Reading of the Scriptures. By Rev. Andbew Netle. 

10. Hymn by the Congregation. From Rev. P. Washinqton. 

11. Ordination Services. By all the Ministers of the Presbytery. 

12. Doxology and Benediction. By Rev. J. L. James. 



222 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

The building was filled to overflowing ; the services 
were grand^ impressive, and orderly in the highest 
degree, and seemed to meet the approval of the most 
high God in its solemnity and perfect success, and from 
men by the commendation of people and of press. 

And now, considering what has been accomplished 
by our predecessors laboring in the vineyard of our 
Lord, to whom he intrusted this glorious inheri- 
tance, his kingdom of grace below ; what they have 
suffered for him; what they have achieved for his 
glory and our good, struggling in the darkness of the 
last closing century and the early glimmering and 
later glowing brightness of this in which we succeed 
and have been so wonderfully blessed, shall we not 
live and labor to build a structure of other human 
benefits as a crowning victory . of their hopes and 
prayers, and an adornment to the gospel of Christ 
and our Christian religion by closer unity as a race, 
a denomination, a peculiar people, especially favored 
by God, one in every common interest, in the blend- 
ing together of our resources, for the glory of Christ 
and the building up of each other, seeing that by the 
conversion of one man and three women of our race 
a church grew and flourished to the present day, out 
of its prayers, sufferings and labors? Our blessings 
have come, which we now enjoy only in part, though 
the higher and holier joys eternal yet await us above ; 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 223 

and out of this one church builded as a temple to Gk)d 
so many others have come. Jesus the great Head of 
the Church has truly said that " I am the vine, ye are 
the branches/^ We note the branching out from this 
older graft : the Second Colored Church in the year 
1802 ; the Ogeechee Church in 1803. Branching again 
from the Second, the First African Church at Philadel- 
phia, organized by Rev. Henry Cunningham, with 
twelve members dismissed from the First Baptist Church 
of that city, Dr. Henry Holcombe, pastor, and whose 
influence called Eev. Mr. Cunningham to that work. 
This church was constituted in 1809; the Abercorn 
and White Blufl^in 1831, the First African going out 
from this old plant in 1832 ; Drakey (now White Oak) 
in 1836; Oakland in 1848 ; Clifton out of the First 
African in 1 849 ; Skidaway branch from White Bluff 
in 1850; St. Mary^s, branch from the Second Colored, 
in 1850; Bethlehem, branch from First African, in 
1860 ; St. Catharine's, branch directly from this old 
church, in 1862 ; and the First Bryan, West Broad 
and Waldberg Streets, going out in 1872 ; — ^all of which 
are bringing forth fruit for God in their fields of labor 
and usefulness. Some of them were organized by our 
white brethren, missionaries, yet each from members 
of some of the colored churches, dismissed under their 
direction, and so connectively to this first branch of 
God's right hand planting, known originally as the 



I' 

n 

It 

h 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 225 



COVENANT. CONSTITUTION, AND BY-LAWS. 



COVENANT. 



Having been, as we trust, brought by divine grace 
to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and to give our- 
selves wholly to Him, we do now solemnly and joyfully 
covenant with each other, to walk together in Him 
with brotherly love, to his glory as our common Lord : 
we do, therefore, in His strength engage : 

That we will exercise a Christian care and watch- 
fulness over each other, and faithfully warn, exhort, 
and admonish each other as occasion may require. 

That we will not forsake the assembling ourselves 
together, but will uphold the public worship of God, 
and the ordinances of His house. That we will not 
omit closet and family worship at home, nor neglect 
the great duty of religiously training our children, 
and those under our care, for the service of Christ and 
the enjoyment of heaven. 

That, as we are the light of the world and the salt 
of the earth, we will seek divine aid to enable us to 
deny ungodliness and every worldly lust, and to walk 



226 ^^^ FinST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH ,| 

drcamspectly in the world, that we may win the 
souls of men. 

That we will cheerfully contribute of our property, 
according as God has prospered us, for the maintenance 
of a faithful and evangelical ministry among us, for 
the support of the poor, and to spread the gospel over 
the earth. 

That we will, in all conditions, even till d^th, strive 
to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of 
darkness into His marvellous light. 

And may the God of peace, who brought again from 
the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd 
of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting 
covenant, make us perfect in every good work to do 
His will, working in us that which is well pleasing in 
His sight. Through Jesus! Christ ; to whom be glory 
forever and ever. Amen. 



CONSTITUTION. 

This Church shall be called the Fibst Bryan Bap- 
tist Church of Savannah, Gti., and shall consist of 
such persons as have repented of their sins and have 
been baptized according to the faith of the Baptist 
denomination, and shall consist of a Pastor, two or 
more Deacons, a Secretary, and Treasurer as its officers. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 227 

ARTICLES OF FAITH. 

We believe in one Triune God, — the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost, — in the inspiration of the 
Scriptures, in the depravity of man, in the electing love 
of God ; that salvation is by grace, that believers are 
kept by the power of God through faith unto salva- 
tion; in the resurrection of the dead and the final 
judgment, in the eternal reward and punishment of 
man; that the immersion of the body in water is the 
only Christian baptism, and is a prerequisite to the 
Lord^s Supper; that these foregoing principles are 
the true doctrines of the Bible. 



RULES OF ORDER. 

1st. It shall be the duty of the Pastor to preach 
the gospel, watch over the spiritual condition of the 
Church, and counsel the members in love, administer 
all the ordinances of the Church, preside at her con- 
ferences, meetings, and visit the sick ; and it shall be 
his privilege to visit the members, inquiring into their 
spiritual condition, when he shall deem it proper or 
expedient. 

2d. It shall be the duty of the Deacons to assist the 
Pastor, to watch over the members and counsel them 



228 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

in love^ to provide for the church and the wants of 
the poor of the Church, keep a correct account of all 
funds of the Church, and make quarterly returns of 
receipts and disbursements. 

3d. The Clerk shall keep a correct record of the 
proceedings of the Church in a book kept for that 
purpose, and one also containing the names of the 
members with dates of their admittance, which at all 
times shall be subject to the inspection of the Church 
or any member ; he shall collect all djues to the Church, 
paying the same over to the Treasurer, and taking his 
receipt for the same. 

4th. The Treasurer shall take charge of all the 
funds of the Church, whether consisting of moneys, 
checks, drafts, property of the Church, and pay 
them out as directed by the Cliurch, keep .a correct 
account of his receipts and disbursements, and make 
annual returns to the Church, or oftener, if called upon 
to do so. 

5th. All the members of the Church shall be 
subject to the rules of the Church, and partake of its 
temporal and spiritual benefits. 

6th. The appointed services of this church shall be 
on each and every Sabbath, and as often during the 
week as may be found practical or beneficial to its 
members. But the ordinance of the Lord's Supper 
shall be administered on the afternoon of the fourth 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 229 

Sabbath in each and every month, meeting at three 
o'clock for the same, after which, before adjournment, 
each member will contribute twenty-five cents for de- 
fraying the expenses thereof, and providing for the 
poor or sick members of the Church, and public col- 
lections may be taken up at any of these meetings, 
when found necessary for the maintenance of the 
Church. 



BY-LAWS. 



Artiek 1st, The regular Church discipline-meeting 
shall be held on the third Sunday mornjng in each 
and every month, at half-past ten o'clock, when the 
punctual attendance of every member shall be re- 
quired. But a called or extra conference may be held 
at any time, when necessary, the Pastor and two or 
more Deacons consenting to the same, and giving due 
notice to the members, but, in the absence of the Pas- 
tor, the Deacons shall call or hold conferences. 

Article 2d. All conference meetings shall be opened 
and closed with religious services. 

Article 3d, All persons speaking in conference shall 

first arise and address the Moderator, and, in any,;jre- 

11 



230 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

marks that may be made, due regard shall be had for 
the feelings of the members. 

Article 4th. No subject shall be legally before the 
body until a motion to that effect has been made and 
seconded ; when the subject shall be open for calm, 
deliberate discussion, before the vote upon the same is 
taken. 

Article 5th. No person shall rise to speak more than 
twice upon the same motion without especial permis- 
sion from the Moderator, but a majority of the votes 
in the meeting may suspend any rule for tlie time 
being, if found necessary. 

Article 6th. When a member is speaking, no one 
shall engage in audible conversation or otherwise in- 
terrupt the meeting; and if they do, the Moderator 
shall call them to order, and if persisted in, their 
names shall be taken, and they be cited to answer to 
the Church at some subsequent meeting for such dis- 
order ; and if they refuse to give the Church satisfac- 
tion, such member or members shall be expelled from 
the fellowship of the Church. 

Article lih. If two members arise at the same 
time, preference shall be given to the one farthest off 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 231 

from the Moderator, but he may decide upon the privi- 
lege, and any decision of the chair may be subject to 
appeal. 

Article Sth. All questions, excepting Church fel- 
lowship, shall be decided by a majority of the mem- 
bers present at the meeting; and where the question 
involves Church fellowship it should be so considered 
as to strive to make the vote unanimous upon so sacred 
a subject. 

Article dth. Any member or members that shall 
neglect or refuse to commune with the Church shall 
be called upon to give the reason of such refusal or 
neglect, and they should be labored with to bring them 
back to their duties ; but if they still refuse or neglect 
their duties, they shall be expelled from the fellowship 
of the Church. 

Artide iOth. Any member reported being in dis- 
order shall be waited on by the deacons or a committee 
appointed for that purpose, and labored with to bring 
them back to their duties in the spirit of meekness 
and love; but if they are incorrigible they shall be 
expelled from the Church. 

Artide llih. No one shall be called or elected to 
the office of a Deacon that cannot read the Holy Bible. 



232 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

Article 12ih. In cases of delinquent^ refractory^ or 
disorderly members, suitable committees shall be ap- 
pointed, whose duty it shall be to inquire into the cases 
of such members, obtaining all the facts that can be 
legally had, and report the same to the Church at the 
discipline meetings. 

* 
Article ISih, All the foregoing Eules and By-Laws 

may be added to, altered, or amended by a two-third 
vote of the members present, at two consecutive meet- 
ings of the Church. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 233 



ORDER OF BUSINESS. 

1st. The members having assembled and religious 
services held, the first business in order shall be to call 
the meeting to order and read the Rules. 

2d. Read and confirm the minutes of the last or 
previous meetings. 

3d. Open the door of the Church for the reception 
of members by letters or experience or recommendation. 

4th. Call for the report of committees appointed 
at the last or previous meetings, or general committees 
of the Church. 

5th. Call for new business, when it shall be in 
order for any meniber to make known any grievance, 
or report anything coming under their notice against 
the discipline of the Church, or any subject of interest 
or utility. 



234 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF THE PASTORS: 



REV. ANDREW BRYAN. 

THE FIEST PASTOB. 

Rev. Andrew Bryan was born a slave upon a 
plantation near Goose Creek, South Carolina, and about 
twenty miles from Charleston. Nothing is known 
of his early life or who his owners were at his birth ; 
he is only brought into notice and history as he is 
born of God through Jesus Christ, and only from his 
second and new birth do we know him and what has 
brought him so very prominently before mankind and 
the world. From his superior natural qualities, mental 
and physical, we judge that he has come from that 
line of his race that was brought from Africa early in 
the history of this country and landed in Virginia, 
which State in time sold them to others of later set- 
tlement, especially the Carolinas ; and, of course, com- 
ing in contact with the civilization of the whites for sev- 
eral generations, were more enlightened and improved 
than the later importations of slaves from that country. 
It is a part of history that the first slaves in Georgia 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 235 

came from South Carolina, and the most intelligent, 
with some exceptions, are those and their posterity. 
Thus, in the planting of this first church of the negro 
race, the prime actors and instruments in the hands of 
God we trace back to Virginia and South Carolina, — 
Brother George Leyle from the former, and Fathers 
Andrew Bryan and Andrew C. Marshall, both from the 
latter. 

Mr. Bryan in early life may have worked in the 
fields among the common laborers until his better 
qualities were developed; but this is only supposition, 
we do not know it. He might have been — ^and it is 
more than probable that he was — ^about the house 
with his parents, and as he grew up became Waiter, 
etc. ; but when introduced to us, he was coachman and 
trusted body-servant to his owner, to whom he was 
sold from Carolina, or perhaps received as part of an 
estate by marriage, as was frequently the case. 

He seems to have been of unmixed, pure African 
blood, with a smooth, smiling face,, bright inquiring 
eyes, and pearly white teeth, — characteristics of the 
pure and best tribes of Africa. He was slightly 
above the medium height, had a finely-poised head 
upon broad shoulders, somewhat rounded, with mus- 
cular limbs, and was moderately corpulent. In de- 
livery his speech was clear and deliberate, his voice 
musical, his manner in preaching impressive and per- 



236 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

suasive. At times his soul seemed to knit itself to 
other souls, and enabled him to draw them to Christ 
by his gospel, to comfort them in affliction, to strengthen 
them when in trouble, to warn them when in danget, 
and to guide them in the discharge of their duties. 
No man of his day was more trusted by his owners or 
more loved by his people ; and he became then, and 
lives in memory now, an example of manhood, purity, 
and piety. 

All we know of his marriage relations is that he 
had a wife, Hannah by name, and that she must have 
been in loving harmony and concord with her hus- 
band. As they went down in the water together and 
received baptism, it is fair to suppose, as they received 
Christ together, so walked they in him. They had 
but one child, as we know, a daughter, from whom 
came the family of the Whitfields, of Savannah, and 
whose son, Sampson Whitfield, was a representative 
of the church at times in the Association, and died but 
a few years previous to this writing, leaving also a 
daughter, Mrs. H. J. Ward. It seems that iu the 
vicissitudes of life his religious change came quite late. 
How long he had been converted before his baptism 
we do not know ; but he must have been about sixty 
years of age when he was baptized, as he died in about 
his ninetieth year, having labored in the Lord's vine- 
yard for twenty-nine years, and served as pastor from 



\ 

IN NORTH AMERICA. 237 

1788 to 1812, twenty-four years. He was certainly of 
a healthy body, and seemed to enjoy that blessing 
nearly to the end of his life. 

Mr. Bryants style of preaching must have been very 
admirable, as some of the older ministers of a later 
day, whom we have heard preach, often alluded to 
him in their discourses, and seemed very desirous to 
emulate him. By the favor of Almighty God he was 
instrumental in converting many to Christ among his 
race, and founded for them the greatest institution for 
their good in the world. "And they that be wise 
shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and 
they that turn many to righteousness as the stars, for- 
ever and ever." And this truly may be applied to his 
glorious life in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 



REV. ANDREW C. MARSHALL. 

THE SECOND PASTOR. 

Andrew Cox Marshall says that he was born in 
the year 1755. His mother, in determining his age, 
always referred to the year of Braddock^s defeat by the 
French and Indians. She was an unmixed negro. 
His father was an Englishman, the overseer upon a 

plantation in South Carolina, where Andrew was born. 

11* 



238 ^^JS? FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

His father went back to England, where he died soon 
after Andrew was born. He was sold to Colonial 
Governor John Houston, of Georgia, who died when 
he was about twenty-one years of age. 

Mr. Marshall was twice married, the first time when 
he was sixteen years of age. By his two marriages he 
had twenty children, only one of whom survived him. 

Governor Houston bequeathed him his freedom at 
his death, on account of having at one time saved his 
master's life. The executors failed to carry out the 
bequest, and he was again sold, being separated from 
his wife. He had run away to evade the decision of 
the executors, and was bought by Judge Clay while at 
large. 

While in the service of Judge Clay he accompanied 
his master, who several times visited the Northern 
States in the capacity of member of Congress, and 
perhaps on other occasions. On these visits he was 
the coachman, and was enabled frequently to see Gen- 
eral George Washington, of whom he was fond of 
relating striking incidents. At a later day, when 
General Washington visited Savannah, Mr. Marshall 
was honored with the appointment of body-servant te 
the President. 

He was an eye-witness to many of the scenes around 
Savannah during the Revolutionary war, and had dis- 
tinct recollections of General Nathaniel Green, who re- 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 239 

moved to Savannah in 1785, possessed valuable grants 
of land near the city, and died the next year, June 19, 
1786. He frequently gave incidents of his great 
funeral. 

Mr. Marshall's force of character seemed to have 
been chiefly expended on worldly interests until he 
was about fifty years of age, when he became con- 
verted to Christ, and soon after his conversion he also 
acquired his freedom. He was at that time owned as 
a slave by Mr. Robert Bolton, of Savannah. The 
venerable mercantile partner of Mr. Bolton, Mr. 
Bichard Bichardson, advanced him two hundred dol- 
lars, which, with what he had saved by economy, 
enabled him to purchase his own freedom; and by 
diligence and economy he purchased his whole family, 
consisting of his wife, four children, his wife's father, 
and his own stepfather. 

He became converted through the preaching of a white 
minister in the Savannah Baptist Church from the 
text : " But now they have no cloak for their sins.'' — 
John XV. 22. Upon conversion he joined the Second 
Colored Church, and was baptized by Rev. Henry 
Ounningham. Shortly aft«r that event he began to 
preach, and frequently he would drive his mistress to 
church in her carriage, then drive the carriage to his 
own church, get some one to look after his horses, go 
in and preach a sermon, leaving the closing service to 



240 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

the pastor, return to the Episcopal Church with the 
carriage, and drive Mrs. Bolton home, — such was his 
anxiety to serve his heavenly Master after his new 
birth. In 1806 he became the assistant pastor of the 
First Colored Church under his uncle. Rev. Andrew 
Bryan. The church then had about one thousand 
members. In his religion he was entirely free from 
superstition, and gave no countenance to marvellous 
relations of experience, even in a work of grace. He 
could penetrate beneath disguises, and few men, white 
or black, of any age could surpass him in reading 
human character. 

There was a period of about two years — from 
1819 to 1821 — when Mr. Marshall became somewhat 
unpopular with the whites of his denomination, on 
account of his extreme views of theology which bor- 
dered on antinomianism (or denying the obligation of 
the moral law), and again, later, he receded to the 
opposite extreme of sacramentalism in baptism, as 
held by Dr. Alexander Campbell. 

During that time, and while engaged in his secular 
avocations as a drayman, he violated the laws by con- 
traband dealings with the negro slaves. He purchased 
from them without having tickets with leave to sell 
and trade, and, though it was common for the whites 
to lay the foundation of a fortune by this illicit trad- 
ing, advantage was taken of Mr. MarshalPs inadver- 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 241 

tency, together with his temporary unpopularity, and 
he was prosecuted and sentenced to be whipped in the 
market-place; but his kind friend, Mr. Richardson, 
who had before assisted him in getting his freedom, 
with the sympathy of many of the best citizens by 
whom he was employed, would not allow him to suffer; 
and many of those who witnessed the execution of the 
sentence attest that the whipping was only a semblance, 
his former master being at his side to see that the con- 
stable did not scratch his. skin or draw any blood. 

Mr. Marshall delighted in alluding to his uncle. 
Rev. Andrew Bryan, as a preacher, and his great 
deference to the white people ; yet he never hesitated 
in his firm and respectful declaration of the rights 
of conscience in matters of religion. Mr. Marshall 
owned a considerable number of books, and among 
those, evidently the most used were Dr. GilPs com- 
mentaries. The bent and tone of Mr. Marshall's mind 
were of the old Calvinistic order. His clear intellect 
was equal to the best distinctions of theology. In 
his treatment of a subject in some of his pulpit 
performances there was observable the grasp of a 
mind which would be deservedly called great. 

Very often, indeed, in preaching he intermingled 
incidents of his personal experience, and then would 
seem to run into a rambling style, but even then 
these discursive qualities served to keep alive the 



242 'PSE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

attention of his simple flock. His voice was so deep, 
sonorous, and tender, that its capacity for the expres- 
sion of pathos was unsurpassed. His favorite hymns 
and selections of Scripture were sometimes pronounced 
with such efiPect that the most highly educated and 
discriminating persons would never forget the im- 
pressions of such readings. 

His appearance was commanding, though neither 
stout nor tall, compared with the average of well- 
formed men. His partly African skin and hair 
were compensated by a face 'of intelligence superior 
to the limitations of race. His hair was of the clearest 
white, and though leaning to the African, it rose in 
unwonted profusion, giving him the presence of a 
venerable patriarch. His teeth were sound and 
beautifully clear. In some of his glowing pulpit 
eflForts, his face and whole person were irradiated with 
intelligence, and one could not hear him at such 
times without feeling himself within the influence 
of a superior mind. He was 'pastor of this church 
from 1815 to 1832, — seventeen years. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 243 

"EXTRACT PROM < ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN 
PULPIT,' BY WM. SPRAGTJE, D.D. A LETTER 
WRITTEN BY REV. JOHN M. KREBS, D.D * 

" New York, June 4, 1869. 

" My DEAR Sir, — You ask me for my recollections 
of the Rev. Andrew C. Marshall, the centenarian colored 
preacher of Savannah. 

" On a certain Lord's Day in May, 1855, 1 was in 
Savannah on my way to the General Assembly. -After 
preaching in the morning for the late Rev. Dr. Pres- 
ton, then pastor of the Independent Presbyterian 
Church, I attended in the afternoon, in company with 
a respected Ruling Elder of the First Presbyterian 
Church, and several other Christian friends who were 
lodging at the same hotel with me, the worship in the 
African Baptist Church, which was under the pastoral 
care of Mr. Marshall, celebrated for his great age, his 
protracted evangelical labors, and his genuine Chris- 
tian eloquence. 

" On entering the church, which was a neat, sub- 
stantial structure, accommodating, as I supposed, from 
eight hundred to a thousand persons, we were con- 
ducted to the pews reserved for white visitors in the 

* The letter of Rev. Dr. Krebs is given as an evidence of Mr. 
Marshall's recovery from past errors, and how glorious was his 
closing years. He was by far the most highly gifted and success- 
ful in his ministry of all his contemporaries ; and so continued to 
his death, and fuliydeserves the extended space in this biography. 



244 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

middle tier (immediately in front of the pulpit), which 
were occupied by some twenty or twenty-five white 
persons. The house was crowded in every part with 
colored people^ whose neat and appropriate dress and 
decorous behavior could not be surpassed by any con- 
gregation. It happened to be their communion service, 
and the exercises were just beginning with a hymn, 
which was nobly read by the pastor, and nobly sung 
by the people. The venerable minister was seated 
under the pulpit which was only a few feet from us. 
His locks were gray with age, but his form was ap- 
parently robust, though the furrows were in his cheeks. 
As he rose to offer prayer, he steadied himself upon 
his cane, while gradually he attained an erect position, 
every feature and every limb trembling, it may be not 
more with the weight of years than with powerful 
emotion. The prayer uttered with clear articulation 
and with strong voice was somewhat long, but it was 
rich with Christian thought and feeling, appropriate in 
expression, and attracting the sympathy of the wor- 
shippers. The aged man of God proceeded with an 
address bearing upon the special service in which he 
was engaged. He made a modest remark in reference 
to his own illiteracy; but, although there was here and 
there a quaintness and homeliness of expression, neither 
out of place nor out of taste, which, nevertheless, I 
could not here repeat without exciting a'^mile, it was 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 245 

not for a moment deficient in force or devotion, nor 
left any other impression than that of deep and tender 
solemnity. And if the preacher modestly estimated 
his own ability, it was clear to his hearers that he was 
a ' man of one Book,' mighty in the Scriptures and 
taught of God. The subject of his address was the 
indispensable importance of the death of Christ and 
the astonishing results which it accomplished. There 
might occasionally seem to a very fastidious critic to 
be a slight incoherence of fragmentary observation ; 
but it was not so, there was a clear, full, consistent vein 
of thought running through the whole. 

" I do not attempt to give more than a specimen of 
his utterance. Referring to the promise of the Saviour's 
coming, couched in the declaration, — ' As often as ye eat 
this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's 
death till he come,' he said, ^My beloved brethren, 
when I read this promise, my poor, trembling heart 
sometimes sinks within me. The Lord shall be re- 
vealed in all the grace and glory of the Redeemer, and 
the King ; but these aged eyes of mine will not con- 
tinue their sight until that day. I am a hundred years 
old, and these tottering limbs of mine shall be laid in 
the dust long ere that bright vision shall gladden the 
face of his redeemed people. But I check myself and 
rebuking my impatient fear. Do I not read in his 
sure promise, that though I sleep in the dust of the 



^ 



246 THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

earthy I shall lose nothing of the perfect grace that is 
to be brought to lis at the revelation of Jesus Christy 
even because he shall lose nothing of all that the 
Father has given him, for he shall raise it up at the 
last day. My dead body shall arise in the vigor and im- 
mortality wherein it shall be fashioned like the glorified 
body of Jesus. And these dull ears shall hear the 
archangel's trump, and these dim eyes shall see the 
King in his glory as clearly and to as good advantage 
as any that shall be alive and remain upon the earth 
to hail that glorious appearing of the great God and 
our Saviour Jesus Christ !' Could anything have been 
more inspiriting, more adapted to rouse up the faith 
and hope of the believer ? 

" Again, in allusion to the plotting of the great ad- 
versary to destroy Christ, he said, ^ At last he succeeded. 
He was nailed to his cross in agony and shame. Satan 
had bruised his heel, and thought that he had crushed 
his head. The fool 1 It was his own head that was 
broken then, and he has been a fool ever since ; and 
the proof of all his wicked madness and folly in com- 
passing the death of Christ became apparent. It was 
Christ that triumphed then and spoiled the spoiler. 
The thief was rescued from the kingdom of darkness. 
The heathen centurion acknowledged the Son of God. 
His death multiplied his disciples. The thousands of 
Pentecost bowed before the salvation of the cross. 



i 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 247 

Myriads upon myriads that no man can number have 
been delivered from the kingdom of Satan and translated 
into the kingdom of God's dear Son, That great sal- 
vation has made its way through the world ; its blessed 
fruits are gathered abundantly on these Western shores. 
Our skins are dark, but our souls are washed white in 
the blood of the Lamb. Nor is he the propitiation for 
our sins only. My brethren, the time was in this city 
and through this Southern country when yon would 
scarcely ever see the face of our white masters in a 
house of prayer ; but how is it now ? How many of 
those to whom we are subject in the flesh have recog- 
nized our common Master in heaven, and they are our 
masters no longer f They are fellow-heirs with us of 
the grace of life. They sit with us at the same table 
of our common Lord. They are our friends, our 
brethren, our guardians, our fathers, and we are 
travelling together to that blessed land where we shall 
dwell together in the presence of Jesus Christ, their 
Lord and ours.* 

" Who could but be affected with such stirring gos- 
pel eloquence ; and my only regret was this : When 
the old man was surrounded by the deacons, some ten 
in number, a body of fine-looking men, the most of 
them intensely black, to receive from him the elements 
for distribution, I felt a pang, because I supposed the 
Baptist principle of close communion would exclude 



248 '^H^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

me from sharing in that feast of love. Bat this ap- 
prehension was quickly dissipated. Before proceeding 
to distribute, the aged servant of God announced, that 
that was not a Baptist table, but Christ's table, and 
that all who loved Him were welcome there. And 
when the bread and wine were handed round first to 
the white occupants of the pews, all of whom appeared 
to be communicants in Presbyterian, Congregational, 
Baptist, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, and perhaps Epis- 
copalian churches, and then to the six hundred colored 
communicants — ^as devout and tender as any congrega- 
tion I ever saw, — I declare to you that never did I 
administer these emblems of my Saviour's love, nor 
never did I receive them from the hands of other 
ministers of Christ, with whatsoever canonical or apos- 
tolical authority ordained, with greater joy than I re- 
ceived them that day from the trembling hands of that 
poor bowed-down weeping negro minister of Jesus 
Christ. 

" The service continued about two hours and a half, 
consisting variously of hymns, prayers, reading of the 
Scriptures, and exhortations. It was refreshment by 
the way, and it was all conducted by Mr. Marshall. 
But it was not long nor tedious, but food and strength 
for many days. And when at the close, as the assem- 
bly orderly broke up, yet seeming loth to part with 
each other, I went forward to introduce myself to 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 249 

this aged father, I could rejoice, as speaking through 
tears, with steady, cheerful voice and happy heart, we 
exchanged the mutual prayer that it might be ours, 
with all the Israel of God, at our next probable meet- 
ing, to sit down together with Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob in the kingdom of God at the marriage supper, 
when the Lamb himself shall preside. 

" This, however, was not our last interview. Among 
the respectful friends who gathered around him was 
the captain of a Philadelphia steamer regularly plying 
between that city and Savannah, who seconded my 
invitation to the venerable man to visit the North, by 
heartily offering him free passage in his ship both 
coming and going. I encouraged him to expect some 
help in building a larger and more commodious church, 
which his congregation were projecting. About a year 
afterward he made the visit. He spent some months 
in this city, lodging with a respectable religious family 
of his own race, but freely welcomed to the tables and 
pulpits of the brethren whose acquaintance he made 
(among whom was the family of a noble-hearted and 
wealthy Georgian, then residing here), who provided 
for his support while here and for his getting about 
from place to place, — for, of course, he was too feeble 
to walk or even to travel alone in omnibuses. Per- 
haps the long journey and the change of climate and 
habits contributed to bring upon him a disorder from 



250 '^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH^ 

which he never recovered. He preached once for me 
to a large concoarse of people whom the occasion at- 
tracted. The sabject of his discourse was the fierce 
demoniac who had his dwelling among the tombs, out 
of whom Christ cast the andean spirit by which he 
wad possessed. Applying it to his own history he 
^ deSOTibed his own early life as a careless sinner antil 
y^^ the grace of Gtod visited and rescued him from the 
y/' power of Satan and led him from step to step until he 
'^"feecame a preadjer of the gospel. He detailed many 
interesting i<(cidents of the Revolutionary war, in- 
cluding tKe si^e of Savannah^ and his own career as 
a seipir&nt, and his journey ^ » an express-rider, bearing 
^}i^atches frnm^nflftr^^fjbfl nrmj to and fro between 

nd eventually the purchase of the 
om^of himself and family and his acquisition and 
then the loss of property. These incidents were 
wrought into his discourse not as a mere narrative, but 
as illustrations of the ways of Providence toward him. 
The sermon was richly evangelical, and experimental. 
But it had not the glow and copiousness, nor perhaps 
the stricter connection, which would have characterized 
it but for the evident pressure of increasing infirmity 
and unusual disorder of his bodily system. The au- 
dience, however, was deeply interested, and responded 
to his appeal for aid to rebuild his church, with a gen- 
erous collection. But he did not live to accomplish 



' — I 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 251 

his object. BeturniDg homeward by easy oyerland 
travel, his illness increased upon him, and he died on 
the way at Richmond. He had but little learning, — 
hardly beyond the knowledge of his Bible, — but he 
was shrewd, intelligent, and fervent in spirit, unpre- 
suming, but zealous, and useful among his own people, 
and greatly respected by all. 

" The following account of his * trial' which I re- 
ceived from the lips of Dr. Preston, may be repeated in 
this connection : There was, and perhaps still is, a law 
of Georgia which requires that a preacher shall procure 
a recommendation from three reputable citizens of his 
oum dmomination, and upon it obtain a license from the 
county court before exercising his office. Mr. Mar- 
shall applied to Dr. Preston for a~ testimonial, which the 
doctor informed him would be useless inasmuch as he 
was a Presbyterian and Marshall a Baptist. For some 
reason — most likely because he did not understand the 
law — Mr. Marshall proceeded to preach without the 
license. Some officious person caused him to be in- 
dicted. When the day of trial came, it appeared that 
in his ignorance of the method of proceeding he had 
retained no counsel for his defence. Several of the 
lawyers in their kindness towards him solicited one of 
the most eminent of their brethren, Mr. McAlister 
(afterwards Judge McAlister, of California), to appear 
for him, as he was incompetent to plead his own cause. 



/ 



262 '''BE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHVRCH 




X- 



Mr. McAlister immediately undertook the case, which 

looked very hopeless indeed. The prosecution proved 

the offence fully. At the proper time for introducing 

his witnesses, Mr. McAlister, observing Dr. Preston 

the court, called him to testify. On the doctor's en- 

, trance upon the witness-stand the presiding judge in- 

erposed, inquiring of counsel for the defence what he 

expected to prove by Dr. Preston. The reply was : 

*That Andrew Marshall was qualified to preach the 

gospel.' ' That,' said the court, ^ is not the question. The 

accused may be never so well qualified theologically^ 

but he is indicted'for preaching without the legal qual-v 

ification vfnsaa/ikafit br the statute.' A little argument 

ed in, as a matter of course, 
to exclude the witness. Mr. Mc- 
_ ^ Immediately^ called another well-known citizen 
t6^tha.>sttedjwhen the previous scene was repeated. 
The coiiiiHLpflfiered a- third equally prominent witness, 
who was also Tge^^d for irrelevancy. Meanwhile, the 
attention of the julrj^ was fastened in this series of 
overtures, which was just what the astute counsel de- 
signed. On ^ summing up,' he made an ingenious and 
eloquent speech in his defence, particularly and plausi- 
bly arguing Hhe very embarrassing and disadvantageous 
predicanjent in which his poor client was placed by the 
remarfcdble ruling of the court, which on his offering, 
op^ behalf of the accused, the testimony of several of the 




IN NORTH AMERICA, 263 

most respectable witnesses that the city could furnish^ 
had refused even to let them be sworn/ The prosecu- 
ting attorney made a few brief remarks commenting 
upon the law and the testimony, and clearly estab- 
lished the guilt of the accused preacher in his breach 
of the laws of the State. The judge as pointedly 
charged the jury against him, for the fact was unde- 
niable. The jury retired, and in a very little time 
returned with a verdict of ^ not guilty.' The court 
gravely received it. The clerk quietly smiled as he 
recorded it, and the spectators a little more audibly 
tittered in token of their satisfaction. The prisoner 
was discharged and the jury dismissed. As they 
came out of the box some person present inquired of 
one of them, ^ How it was possible for them to bring 
in such a verdict in the face of the law and the fact 
and their own oath V ^ Easily enough,^ replied the 
juror ; ^ you will never catch a Georgia jury convicting 
him of crime for preaching the gospel.^ ^' 



REV. THOMAS ANDEESON. 

THE THIRD PASTOR. 

Thomas Anderson was born in Chatham County, 

Georgia, of unmixed African blood, and a slave to the 

family from which he takes his name. He was ap- 

12 



264 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

preotioed and learned the carpenter's trade. He be- 
came a convert to the Baptist faith early in life^ and 
was baptized by Mr. Bryan as a member of this 
church. He was dismissed to form the Second Church 
in Savannah^ and became a deacon under B.ev. Henry 
Cunningham, in which office he served until set apart 
to the ministry as an evangelist by that church. 

He was a man of high moral character, grave of 
demeanor, and of strict piety. He married a manu- 
mitted slave, by whom he reared a large family of 
children. One of his sons, Adam Anderson, was for 
several years clerk of the First Church, until he left 
the State for Africa. Rev. Mr. Anderson was pos- 
sessed of an intelligent mind, and could read very well. 
As a preacher, he was not fluent of language, but pro- 
found in doctrine and ardent in delivery. As a pastor, 
he was fatherly to his people, being well advanced in 
years before being called to that position. He was 
ever reverently honored for the purity of life and the 
high position he occupied more than for the ability he 
possessed. 

He was called to the pastorate of this church in 
1833, succeeding Mr. A. C. Marshall, and served the 
church until 1835, two years; when he resigned, to 
become the pastor of the Second Church, on the death 
of Rev. H. Cunningham, in which position he served 
very acceptably and with much success until he died. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 255 



I 



EEV. STEPHEN McQUEEN. 

THE FOURTH PASTOR. 

Stephen McQueen was born a slave, upon the 
plantation of the white family from whom he took his 
name. As he grew he was selected as' a house-servant, 
and becoming a favorite of his mistress, on account 
\){ his strict honesty and pleasant disposition, she 
taught him to read in her leisure moments. Removing 
to the city, he attended the church, and soon became 
converted to Christ. As a young man, he joined the 
church and was baptized by Rev. Andrew C. Marshall. 
Being intelligent and able to read tolerably correct, h6 
would exercise his gifts among his fellow-servants 
upon the McQueen plantation, some five miles from 
Savannah, and^the church approved of his preaching; 
and for a number of years he thus labored, as opportu- 
nities permitted, at different points around the city and 
country. It was late in life, about the age of fifty, 
before he was ordained as an evangelist. He was a 
man of fine physical appearance, above the medium 
stature with very pleasant countenance, but slow of 
speech, and very deliberate in preaching. He was 
called to the pastorate of the church in 1835, and 
served five years without any remarkable results. He 
was a man of strict piety and sound in the doctrines 



256 rif£ WAST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

as be was able (o trnderstand them. He con- 
tinued to labor as an evangelist as long as be was able; 
bnt a few years after retiring from the pastoral care of 
4his church he became much enfeebled, which com- 
pellc^hifl retirement. His memory to the latest years of 
his life was good, and be furnished much information 
of the early days of this church, and of the others 
,t were organized from it. He died rich in the faith 
' ' " mce among the 
saints i| t him. 



REV. ^VOUX. 

Rev. John Benjamin Detohx was borain Savan- 
nah, Georgia, in a state of slavery, on October 15f 1774, 
and was thus fourteen years of age when thJ8 church 
was constituted. He was o£ mixed blood, aad possessed, 
as among his race, rare qualities of natural ability. 
Though born a slave, he seemed to have been greatly 
favored by his owners. He was taught the trade 
of a house-carpenter and worked at it generally until 
his later days. As moat of the young of his day he 
early became a professor of religion, joined the 
Savannah white church, and was baptized by Dr. 
Hoi com be. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 257 

When the Second Colored Baptist Church was 
organized he was dismissed to it, and became one 
of the first deacons. He also organized its choir, 
and through his perseverance acquired for himself 
and associates a very fair knowledge of the theory 
of music, and thus became at that early day some- 
what celebrated as a leader of church music. He 
became the father also of one of the most distin- 
guished colored families in the city in his ability to 
partially educate his daughters, two qf whom were 
his assistants in the church choir, and led the singing 
after his death, until the days of emancipation. He 
was a man of strict piety and upright deportment; 
a pattern of good works to all around him, yet 
very modest and seemingly diffident in his actions; 
and among the fathers he may in an eminent degree 
he called the Barnabas, for he was truly a good man 
and "filled with the Holy Ghost and of faith, and 
much people was added unto the Lord by his labors 
in the church.^' He was often a representative of his 
church in the Sunbury Association while a deacon, 
and was licensed to preach, among others, about the 
year 1831. He was called to ordination by this 
church in 1842 as their pastor, and served two years. 
Though he did not possess much of force in preaching, 
he was, nevertheless, a good reasoner of the faith 

that was in him, and sound in the doctrines of his 

12* 



258 ^^^ FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

church. He lived to a good old age, and died on 
September 16, 1845, honored and regretted by the 
whole community, and greatly loved and revered by 
his brethren and the church. 

It is written, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall 
inherit the earth." He also was one among the meekest 
of the Baptist fathers ; and under his roof and by his 
noble wife and daughters, who were always nominally 
free, many colored children were clandestinely taught to 
read the Scriptures, which gave young Christian men 
a better knowledge of God and religion than they 
would otherwise have possessed ; and also left their 
posterity in the possession of knowledge that at this 
day makes them possessors of prominent positions, with 
power to benefit their race, — ^and a living testimony 
of what faith in God, hope in immortality, and 
charity towards mankind can accomplish in the world, 
even after we sleep in death. " Blessed are the dead 
who die in the Lord," as did Father Devoux. 



EEV. ISAAC ROBERTS. 

THE SIXTH PASTOR. 

Rev. Isaac Roberts was born in Savannah, of 
free parents. He learned the trade of a cooper, and, 
in connection with John Cox, for many years carried 



^ 



. m NORTH AMERICA. 259 

on the principal business of making barrels or tieroes 
for marketing the rice grown upon the plantations near 
the city. Both himself and partner learned to read 
after they had grown to manhood, and, like all colored 
persons, were limited in their education. He was a 
man of great energy and industry. He was converted, 
and became a member of the Second African Church 
when about thirty years of age, and soon after was 
licensed to preach, exercising his gifts among the 
country churches. He was called as pastor of this 
church in 1846, and served three years very success- 
fully and acceptably to the members. He did much 
to build up the church and arouse the spirit of its 
members to work for the Master's cause. Mr. Rob- 
erts was a very forcible preacher of the gospel, and 
was practical in his application of the Scriptures to 
the wants and condition of . his people, — ^a thorough 
Baptist, whose principles he believed to be right 
and give the largest liberty consistent with right- 
eousness. He, therefore, more than any other of 
our colored brethren, ever exhibited restlessness under 
the slave system. In our associational meetings and 
ministerial councils he frequently chafed under the 
humiliation of restraining what he and all our brethren 
felt was their due and dare not express relative to 
our Christian work ; and many were the times when 
his colored brethren had fears that some sudden out- 



260 '^BE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

burst of his feelings (which in private he gave vent to) 
would bring trouble upon them, and be the cause of 
silencing th§m from preaching ; and among them all 
his was the most intense suffering of a suppressed 
manhood. 

He married early in life a Miss Bourke, and had an 
interesting family of children, whom he greatly desired 
to educate, and therefore often encountered diflBculties 
in procuring clandestine instruction for them. He 
was anabitious to become the successor of the aged 
pastor of the church of his first membership, which 
was then a body highly favored in the Savannah com- 
munity, and, therefore, upon the death of Rev. Mr. 
Anderson, in 1849, he resigned the pastoral charge of 
this church, to the regret of all the members, with the 
belief expressed that as a son of that church they 
were most entitled to nis services; but his church, 
upon making the call of a successor, chose his less 
brilliant partner in business, John Cox, as their pas- 
tor, who served them acceptably until his death. Rev. 
Mr. Roberts sold out his property and went to Li- 
beria, Africa, where he continued in the ministry for 
many years. 



IN NORTH AMERICA. 261 

REV. BRISTER LAWTON. 

THE SEVENTH PASTOR. 

Rev. Brister Lawton was bom and raised in 
Beaufort District, South Carolina, and was little known 
in Savannah previous to his call to the pastorate, in 
1850. He served the church only one year, and there 
were added to its membership, whom he baptized, twelve. 
He was an humble, godly man, of moderate talents, very 
little education, and did not seem suited to the wants 
of a city church. He was, too, unfortunate in having 
to become the successor of the brilliant Mr. Roberts, 
whose eloquence the church had sat under for three 
years previous; and so, when the year expired for 
which he had been called, he returned to Carolina, 
with a peaceful and pleasant parting. 



REV. GARRISON FRAZER. 

THE EIGHTH PASTOR. 

Rev. Garrison Frazer was born in Virginia. 
He and his wife were brought to Georgia about the 
year 1860. He had been converted in that State and 
joined the Methodist Church, but becoming convinced 
that the Baptist faith was according to the Bible, as 



262 ^™p FIBST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

he expressed it, lie was baptized, and this church or- 
dained him to the ministry as her pastor in 1852. 

He was endowed with fair natural gifts, a command- 
ing presence, and a good voice. As a preacher he was 
plain and impressive, and, while not learned in the- 
ologyy he nnderstood and coald explain the doctrines 
of Christ qnite clearly ; and so served the church very 
acceptably for about seven years. 

Upon the occupation of Savannah by the Union 
army, he was chosen by his ministerial brethren to 
speak for and introduce them to the commander, Gen- 
eral W. T. Sherman. Soon after he became somewhat 
enfeebled from age, and, though he did some missionary 

m 

work among the country churches a few years, died in 
1873, triumphant in Christ. 



KEV. ULYSSES L. HOUSTON. 

THE NINTH PASTOR. 

Rev. Ulysses L. Houston was born in South Caro- 
lina in February, 1825, and is therefore now sixty-three 
years of age. He was raised as a house-servant by 
his master, James B. Hogg, a Baptist, who treated 
him with much care and kiudoess ; and under whose 
pious teaching he early gave evidence of a new birth. 



IN NORTH AMERICA, 263 

and became a member of this church June 27, 1841, 
being baptized by Rev. J. B. Devoux at the age 
of sixteen. He married his first wife when he was 
twenty-three. He was then a member also of the 
church's choir. He was called to the deaconships, 
November 3, 1861, and served four years, and until 
he was licensed to preach the gospel, in April, 
1855. He was ordained in May, 1861, and was 
called to the pastorate of the church in October fol- 
lowing. Though a son of the church he has ever been 
also a man of the people, loving and beloved ; and 
since the death of Rev. Mr. Bryan, the only pastor 
directly from the membership of the church. In 
appearance, power of prayer, and preaching, Mr. 
Houston is the very counterpart of him. 

In his public ministrations he has been remarkably 
successful^ having the utmost confidence of his race 
and people, and also of the whites who know him. 
He became moderator of the Zion. Baptist Association 
in 1872, and has held that responsible position succes- 
sively to the present time. He has served a term 
in the State legislature, and has been three times 
elected vice-president of the Baptist Missionary Con- 
vention of Georgia, which oflSce he yet holds ; he is also 
vice-president of the Foreign Missionary Convention. 
He is possessed of fair executive ability for a man 
self-educated, like all the other pastors born in slavery ; 



264 ^^^ FIR^T COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH 

reads well and writes a fair hand; and the present 
prosperous and highly blessed condition of the church 
is due largely to his energy^ strong faith in God, and 
his call to the ministry of Jesus Christ, which he 
glories in. He is a forcible preacher, with much of 
the revival turn, and when in prayer thrills the souls 
of his hearers, his voice being sonorous but very smooth 
in tone, and his words clearly articulated. Under his 
ministry have been converted and baptized a greater 
number of persons than under any other in the 
State excepting that of Revs. Andrew Bryan and 
Andrew C. Marshall. He is the only pastor left who 
fitly represents that old school of the fathers who 
labored in this part of the vineyard of Jesus our 
Lord. 



THE END.